I sat there as a scrawny 7th grader holding my breathe as my soccer coach announced the most valuable player on the team…would it be me?
No…that year I received the “Hustle” award. Basically, I tried really hard, but wasn’t the best.
Even though the Jr. High soccer team I played for did not really matter to many…it mattered a lot to me. I tried hard and worked hard to gain athletic success through soccer. In high school, it meant playing club soccer in the spring, swimming for my school in the winter to stay in shape for soccer, swimming for a club in the summer to stay in shape for soccer, and playing school soccer in the fall…it was a year round process.
Enjoying Soccer as a gift from God…There was a part of me that loved (and still loves) to play the game of soccer. The joy of competition and working with a team is a gift from God and is used by God to build character and teach life-lessons.
Turning Sports into an Idol…However, there as another part of me that had turned soccer into an idol. It began to consume my thinking, my planning, and even my closet…all of my t-shirt had something to do with soccer. I’m ashamed to say this, but I even got a specialized license plate that said “Socer2” on it (Socer1 and Hattrik were taken!). I gave soccer a place in my thinking, in my dreams, and in my schedule that revealed what I worshiped.
My Deep Idol…The game of soccer was not really what I was bowing down to. Instead, Soccer was a way for me to gain approval from others for achieving success. I thought if I gained that approval I would be happy. I beamed with joy when I found out I made the Varsity soccer team as a freshman and loved game days, when we would wear our warm-ups to school…I loved that people knew I was on the team.
Enjoying sports…When I made soccer into an idol, I didn’t enjoy it as much. I was constantly striving for success…to make the best team, to be the best, to impress coaches…and it was never enough, I always needed more. Instead of enjoying it, it began to own me like it was my master. It wasn’t until God became my source of joy that I actually began to enjoy soccer again and not be in despair if I wasn’t the best.
How do you think through this?
How do you make sure a sport has not become an idol?
What are some possible signs that a sport has become your idol?
What may be a Biblical principle that helps you think through whether or not you should skip Sundays or Tuesdays for sports?
What are other “deep” or “core” idols that people try to gain through sports? (my example was trying to gain approval from people for succeeding)