America has a great love that seems to be more important than any other thing they have. This love is taught to the children and grows throughout adulthood. Many Americans dream of sports. They breathe sports. They play sports. They pay to attend sporting events. They cheer on their favorite team. They wear their team merchandise. They fight over which team is best. They spend hours and hours watching their sport on TV. They sacrifice to be able to buy tickets to attend the sporting events. The love for sports takes a large chunk out of the average American’s budget.
Think for a few minutes. How many sporting related articles of clothing do you own? How many sporting related pieces of equipment do you own? How many hours do you spend watching some type of sporting event each week? How many of your conversations revolve around sporting events, equipment, or players? How many conversations do you have about the bad call at that week’s game? Does a large segment of your life revolve around sports of some type?
Even those who don’t care much for sports tend to be able to tell you when the World Series is or when the Super Bowl is. One cannot watch TV without seeing an advertisement for some sporting event. In 2012, companies paid an average of $3,500,00.00 (3.5 million) for a mere 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl.
Americans spend over $35,000,000,000.00 (35 billion, yes, that is billion with a “b”) each year on sporting goods at retail shops. Over $400,000,000,000.00 (400 billion) is spent each year on sport’s gambling. Those are astounding figures. But it is even more astounding to see how much Americans spend in connection with their children playing sports. Parents spend roughly $900,000,000.00 each year in connection with their children playing sports (registration fees, equipment, travel, uniforms, etc). All told, that is over $435,900,000,000.00 spent each year connected with sports in the USA alone.
There are roughly 317,000,000 people who live in the USA. That means the average American—adult and child—spends roughly $115 every month connected with sports. That is $1380 for that every baby, infant, toddler, child, youth, teen, young adult, adult, and senior adult spends each year. If one takes 70 for a life-expectancy, then that would be roughly $96,600.00 per life that every single individual spends connected to sports. When you remember that there are some people like me that rarely spends anything on sports that figure jumps for those who do.
Do not misunderstand the intent of this blog. I am not condemning the amount of time or money spent on sports. I think sports serve a good purpose. I believe it is good to have our children involved in sports. However, I do want us to think through our priorities.
Sports lasts for this life-time at the maximum. Christ did not come to save sports. How much money and time do we spend on sports compared to how much money and time we spend on Christian activities and material? The average American gives roughly $300 per year to religious causes. That includes money donated to religious groups of all types. I cannot find good statistics for religious merchandise expenditures. However, it is easy to see that Americans spend much more on sports and sport’s related material than on religious material. Remember that $300 per year includes donations to mosques, temples, and any organization that is connected to any religion. Christianity is way outspent by sports.
Think back to your school days. Now do you remember your high school mascot? Do you remember your college mascot? What was your team’s nickname? Did you play any sports in high school or college? Do you remember any sport’s player from high school or college?
Now think on these questions. Did your high school have a Bible club of some sort? Who led it? Did your college have a BSU or RUF or some other Christian club? Who led it? How much time did you spend at the club if it existed?
What would be the difference in this country if we supported Christ and Christian endeavors? People wear their team’s logo on their caps, shirts, and pants. Some people blazon their vehicles with decals declaring their favorite teams. Moms and dads will carry their children to their team’s practices and games. They make sure their children are at the games no matter what.
Now let’s look at these activities from how a Christian can support Team God. Every good team has practice times. Practice is in some ways more important than the game itself because it gets the players ready for the game. During practice, the team members learn how to play the game better. They learn new ways of playing. They spend time making the game so real that their actions during the game becomes second nature to them. Can you imagine a team becoming champs without ever holding a practice?
In Christianity, church/worship services are the practice times. Sunday school is a great time to learn more about the playbook—Bible. Sunday school is also the time to build team spirit. You get to know each other and pray for each other during this time. You learn about your team mates and encourage your team mates. The church/worship service is another part of practice. You get encouraged by the worship music. You are taught more about the game during the preaching service. You give to the sport through the worship of offering/tithes. To be a good team player, you have to attend church/Sunday school as much as possible. What excuses do you use or accept to avoid practice with your chosen sport? Accept no less for the practice sessions for Team God.
Every team has a uniform that each player wears. This uniform identifies the team that the player belongs to. If there were no uniforms, knowing who was on your side and who was on the opposing side become difficult. Even a pick-up game using some type uniform even if it is shirts or skins. The fans wear team jerseys to identify the team they support. As Christians we need to put on the team uniform of Team God. We find that uniform in several places in the Scriptures.
Col 3:12-14 12Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
The Christian uniform is made up of lifestyle. We are told to put on the team uniform that consists of holiness and love. We are to be merciful (compassionate). We are to treat others with kindness. We are not to be high-minded thinking we are better than others. We are to treat others with gentleness. We are to endure the nonsense of others. To forbear others means to hold them up, encourage them, and support them. We all need forgiveness. Charity is the old word for love. We are to reach out to others in love. This love binds the team together. Christ said love would be the one thing that others will see and say, “Wow, they must be Christians.”
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
If we dress every day in our Christian uniform, the way we treat others would change. We would be so loving and kind that others would flock to us and give us the chance to tell them about our Team Captain.
When we wear the uniform, then we reach out to the world and get into the game. The game time is our service opportunities. Game time is our outreach to those who are not part of the team yet or who are already on the team but are weak and need encouraging. We play the game by doing loving acts for others. We reach out and help the poor and needy. We serve others. Christ said that the way we treat the poor and needy is the way we treat Him (Matthew 25).
Think what a difference it would make if we gave as much money to the cause of Christ as is given to the cause of sports? Every Christian ministry would be fully funded. Every church would have its budget met. The mission to help others would be overflowing.
If you represented Christ as well as you represent your favorite sport’s team, how would your life change?
*Statistics from http://www.capcredit.com/how-much-americans-spend-on-sports-each-year/ (accessed 1/17/2014)