There’s a big problem in sports. No, I’m not referring to steroids, concussions or Joakim Noah’s finger-guns. I’m talking about athletes who feel the need to beat us over the head with religion every time they find themselves in front of a microphone.
Most players are respectful and keep their religion to themselves. Others couldn’t be more eager to cram their beliefs down our throats. Ray Lewis was one of the worst. Don’t get me wrong, he was the best middle linebacker to play the game, in my opinion. But come on, dude. Have you ever gone back and listened to one of your pre-game speeches? You sound like a damn lunatic. Even Joe Flacco admitted that he had no idea what the hell Lewis was talking about half the time.
Don’t even get me started on Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow is the worst type of person on the Earth: an evangelist. Look, if you believe in religion, great. Honestly, I’m happy for you. But please keep it to yourself. Tebow, on the other hand, relishes every opportunity he gets to remind you how great and holy he is. Every interview comes with a sermon. Every tweet is a Bible verse. Hey, at least I can entertain myself by trolling him on Twitter:
Good thing he’s out of the league. Hopefully, it’s for good.
Since I want this article to appeal to my audience, and this is a Catholic college, let’s go ahead and say for the sake of argument that God exists, shall we?
OK, so there’s this all-powerful being up in the clouds that watches over us. Answer me this: what makes you think that he would he give a rat’s a– about sports? Forget about all those starving children in Africa or those annoying victims of senseless violence. God’s too busy making sure that the Miami Heat cover the spread. “Come on, Chris Bosh! Stop taking jump shots! You’re not Brent Berry, you big idiot!”
Let’s think about this logically for a second. Christians believe that all people are God’s children. So when an athlete asks God to help them win a game, he is essentially asking a parent to choose one of their children over another. So God plays favorites, does he? Or does he take the side of whoever prays to him the hardest? Of course! That must be it!
After a team loses a game, their coach chews them out in the locker room: “Damn it, men! That pre-game prayer was NOT up to standards! How do you expect to make the playoffs with that kind of annunciation? I want to see you all at 6 a.m. tomorrow for conditioning. You’re all going to give me 50 wind-sprints followed by 10 Our Father’s and 20 Hail Mary’s!” [Team groans]
The problem I have with athletes thanking God after wins is that the whole thing becomes more of a spectacle than an honest expression of faith. “Oooh, look at me! Look how humble I am! Aren’t I such a great role model?” Athletes use religion to further their own brand, to make themselves seem relatable to regular people. Look what it did for Tim Tebow. He can barely throw a football and had no business being in the NFL, yet ESPN gave him 24/7 comprehensive coverage. He’s not even in the league anymore and companies are still offering him endorsement deals.
Are the Catholics in the audience still not convinced? Well, how about we take a look at a certain passage from your favorite 2,500-year-old book?
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” [Matthew 6:5-6]
Did you forget about that little nugget?
So, in reality, not only is it completely illogical for athletes to publicly thank God for their success; the Bible itself tells them not to.
So next time that microphone is crammed into your face, how about giving a shout out to someone a little more deserving? Maybe your parents that, you know, spent all of their hard-earned money to feed you and keep a roof over your head for 18 years. Or maybe your coaches, who spend hundreds of hours pouring over film and preparing game plans — time that they could have spent with their families. Or maybe you could thank your teammates. I mean, they’re the ones who have to put up with the majority of your unwarranted religious advice.
It doesn’t matter who you thank — just keep your religion out of it.