In his article titled, “Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?,” columnist Tom Krattenmaker questions how good thinking people can continue to support a game that hurts people. Tom is the communications director at Yale Divinity School and a writer described as “specializing in religion in public life.” Apparently, he has a book soon to be released titled, Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower. Interesting…
The recent film Concussion has intensified the awareness of a problem in sports that is garnering much attention these days. Football seems to be the principal violator. Thus, Krattenmaker makes much about the growing number of parents pulling their kids from football programs around the country.
Also highlighted is how incredibly popular football games are to watch. In short, television ratings for last year’s Super Bowl set a record for any TV program of any type. Now it must be said that apart from the game itself, a good number of people watch for the commercials. Go figure.
What is the conclusion here? It’s obvious. By you and I watching a sport where people can and do get seriously injured—and raising those ratings sky high—we are complicit in keeping this violence in place. Big money stakes mean many football players choose to play even if it’s a bad choice. Or so the argument goes.
I’m not sold on this. Watching football games at any level is not like watching Christians being fed to lions. I’m not a spectator for the purpose of seeing crippling injury. My interest is to watch outstanding athletes play a competitive team game and display excellence. And in the midst of this competition, there is risk.
You want to see risk? Go back and watch the 60 Minutes segment on Alex Honnold. Alex is a “professional rock climber.” When he scales cliffs, there is no net. Nothing will save him if he falls. One of his personal challenges a while back was to attempt something no one had done before. Alex was to climb the three biggest rock faces in Yosemite in succession, alone, and in less than 24 hours.
As the New York Times described it, “This meant scaling the sheer walls of Mount Watkins, El Capitan, and Half Dome for a total of about 7,000 vertical feet of rock. For all but about 500 feet of it, Honnold planned to climb with no ropes or safety equipment at all. One mistake and he could die.” My friend, that is risk! And plenty of people showed up to watch. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/16/sports/rock-climber-alex-honnold-tackles-yosemites-biggest-rock-faces.html?_r=0
Most people do not know that another man and his friend scaled down Half Dome over a century ago in another remarkable climb. His name was Henry Crowell. He was 22 at the time. Crowell and his friend George Worthington Stout used clotheslines, a bag of rugged spikes, and two short-shafted sledges apiece as scaling aids. They descended the 3,000 feet and bragged about it at dinner that night. Mountaineers overhearing that conversation would not believe it—until they saw the evidence the following morning on the side of Half Dome.
Crowell went on to take risks of another kind. Business risks. He started a ranch raising Percheron horses where no one else was doing this. He succeeded. After selling that business and successfully building another, he received a tip from a relative to look into a “Quaker mill” in Ohio. That business venture became what we know as Quaker Oats. Crowell’s life was amazing. (You can read about him in the book Cereal Tycoon from Moody Publishers.)
Whether it’s sports that can cause injuries, rock climbing that could lead to death, or business adventures than can mean financial ruin, all of these require risk taking. The men and women who serve our nation every day in the military in dangerous parts of this world take risks. And sometimes, tragically, they lose.
We must accept that all of life comes with risks. We must also learn to overcome the crippling fear that keeps us from living the life we are called to live.
Jesus’s greatest time of struggle was in the Garden of Gethsemane—just before His arrest and crucifixion. It’s recorded this way: ‘He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” (Luke 22:44 / NLT) Jesus knew what was coming. And thus, he prayed. Fervently.
What is your crisis? Where are you sensing risk? Where do you need relief from anguish?
Try this remedy: fervent, persistent prayer.
And keep a good set of kneepads handy.
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