I’ve said it. You’ve probably said it. It’s uttered every Saturday on fields and courts across the country. It’s the ultimate retort to any sore loser or hyper-competitor. It goes like this:
“It’s just a game!”
The fact is though, it’s just not true.
As a sports minister, I said this to angry coaches and players frequently. Never once did someone say, “You’re right! I need to calm down.” Instead, it provoked them to further anger.
Beyond the fact that it provokes people, I would like to advocate eliminating this phrase from the vernacular of sports. Here’s why:
1. Condescension has no place for a minister. As we all know, many people struggle with the idolatry of sports. Remember, an idol is anything we’ve put in the place of God. This is no trivial thing. It does no good to speak condescendingly to a sports idolater by saying it’s just a game. If you want to address the idolatry, due it carefully and cautiously with a humble heart. Trust me, both you and the idolater will grow as product of this posture.
2. It creates a false dichotomy. Behind that saying is a belief that says, “Some things are important and some things are not. Games are not important.” God tells us a different story though. In 1 Corinthians 31, it says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Games are important because they can be done for the glory of God, just like anything else. Using this above statement lowers the bar for competition. People don’t need a lower view of sports, they need a higher one! (For more on this idea, take a look at The Ultimate Question or For the Love of the Game.)
What do you say though? Have you used this statement? Has it been helpful?
Credit: Bob Schindler – The Executive Director of our sister ministry, Church Sports Outreach
Submitted by Ken Cross.