I love sports. Let it be known. I LOVE sports. This hasn’t always been true. Growing up, I had a father who was disillusioned by the Baseball Strike of 1994 and who preferred more alternative sports like boxing. However, I grew up in Indiana during a time where the city was positioning itself as the Amateur Sports Capital of the World (if you are interested in the civic-sports strategy of Indianapolis, you can watch “From Naptown to Super City” a documentary about the growth of Indianapolis from the 1960s to today).
I also married a man who is in love with sports. He doesn’t love sports in a “super-fan” kind of way, all body-paint and tailgating. He loves sports in a “metaphor to life” sort of way. Let me take you to 2005-2006 shortly after our marriage and before the birth of our first son.
We are in Charlotte, having moved there with no friends or family to speak of. I am big pregnant, full of life but lacking energy. The World Cup was that summer and football season was now underway. We spent a lot of time watching sports on our new big TV (the one we bought before we moved because we knew we’d be spending a lot nights at home, without friends and with a new baby).
Husband is a most excellent man. He is a natural teacher, all patient and wise. He is an effective communicator unlike any I’ve ever met. Maybe he just speaks my language? Regardless, he realized that his young bride was more interested in Law and Order reruns than sports of any kind. So, he devised a plan.
instagram from Friday at the Super Bowl Village Indy
Knowing that women (his wife!) are highly relational, he began to weave in stories of the individual players as the games wore on. He knows that I am jazzed by other people’s enthusiasm, so he regaled me with the high hopes and the desires of the cities competing. He was the a first-class sports reporter, threading together a story of epic proportions for each game we watched. I was hooked. Every game has a story, just like the fact that every moment in life contributes to a greater Story.
Sports and Story became the common language in our home–and thank God, as we went on to have two more sons. I believe the love of sports was born out of a desire to connect with my husband, and will be fruitful in the future of connecting with my sons. I love watching sports, I love listening to sports radio. I love learning about the business end of teams. I love beating Husband to the breaking sports news–texting him when I hear something juicy.
Maybe sports are our love language. A way to connect that makes both of us excited. I do know this, it has been our joy to see our city come alive for the hosting of Super Bowl 46. We both spent a lot of time downtown this week–he wanted to be part of the nighttime crazy and I wanted to see my favorite ESPN personalities at work broadcasting during the day.
Life lessons from the sports field abound. There is the age old battle of good and evil. There is the idea that sometimes there is a winner…and with that comes a loser–not a ribbon for participation. One day you’re the hero, one day you’re the goat. How do you look beyond that? How do you live your life without riding the rollercoaster of expectation? That is an absolutely important life lesson.
Tim Tebow talks about choosing not to ride the roller coaster of other people’s expectations
I know, the salaries of professional sports stars are exorbitant. It is unfortunate that our society has monetized pro sports to the extent that athletes make at least 5 times (at the very least) and 150 times (at the most) more than our best educators annually. I wish we could figure out the education problem. However, I have changed my thoughts on the fact that elite athletes make a zillion dollars. This fact used to gross me out–I mean, really gross me out. I have come to the realization though, that sports bring incredible income to a city and foster a sense of civic pride, shared experience, and community involvement.
Now, let’s talk about idolization of athletes. Y’all. Get real. I know that athletes are sometimes made to be role models. I get this. And, I know how uncomfortable it will be when my boys get to an age where the hear of the poor decisions their favorite athletes make. BUT, athletes are like everyone else (well, kind of…)–crappy at times, poor decision makers at points, and just dumb sometimes. I think I’ll make a point to talk with my boys about how sports are for our enjoyment and entertainment, but making an idol out of anyone or anything is against God’s best for us. We shouldn’t look to anyone to be unfaltering because we ourselves cannot be unfaltering. I want our boys to look up to people we know, people who love them, and people who have direct accountability in our community. Sports stars are fun to watch, but they shouldn’t be set on a pedestal.
Sport mirrors life. Life is pantomimed during any given match, game, or tournament. Sometimes, sport is the common language we can speak. Just like speaking in someone else’s native tongue is a sacrifical and necessary part of communicating, I needed to learn one language that the men in my life speak. And really, that is good. That is love. That is fun.