Will There Be Football in the Millennium?

Walter Camp, the "Father of American Foot...
Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football" in 1878. A far cry from today's football players, huh? (Image via Wikipedia)

We had a wonderful Cincinnati Spokesman Club meeting this morning, and football (American football for my non-American friends; here’s why football is called soccer in America and Canada, BTW) made a festive entrance into the “Table topics” session that was really enjoyable. Thoughts and opinions were diverse, though all rooted in good thinking, methinks. (And since I was the Director, I tried to tell to tell them so! 🙂 )

One of the fun questions that I’ll focus on in this post was this: “Will there be football in the Millennium?” Actually, the conversation during table topics was more broad, asking about sports in the Millennium in general, but with tonight’s Super Bowl event on folks’ minds (which might be going on right now as I type this, come to think of it), football had a starring role in the discussion.

The question and conversation also reminded me of a question I received from an elderly widow lady in one of my congregations. She is a sweet lady who happens to enjoy football on television. She had read someone preaching something that unnecessarily troubled her and came up to me at services to ask for counsel, worried that watching football might be “evil” in some way. For such a sweet lady in my care to be so worried unnecessarily about something which was not a sin required a response.

At the heart of the question about any particular sport being played in the new society after Christ’s return is this: Is the sport inherently evil? If so, then: no, of course, it would not be played.

So, is football inherently evil? No, it isn’t. Some might say that “No” is only the right answer for touch football or flag football, as if tackling is somehow the “inherently evil” quality. Yet, what is inherently evil about physical contact in a sports environment? Is wrestling inherently evil (not so-called “professional” wrestling, mind you). Arm wrestling? Thumb wars? Is it wrong for a dad to wrestle with his kids in a competitive way? (We’ll discuss competition later.) Is such contact inherently violent? If so, what kind of “violent” since not all “violence” is created equal (for example, Matt. 11:12 vs. Luke 3:14 (KJV) vs. Gen. 6:11), and some forms of violence (the Greek diaseio of Luke 3:14) are even present in chess. Was it sinful for the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ to physically contend with Jacob?

As a father of four boys, I can say that it would be a horrible shame to remove rough-and-tumble play from them. Not only is it fun, but–and it may seem odd to say this, though it shouldn’t–it’s manly. It’s physical. It requires strength and agility and toughness. And none of those things are inherently evil. In fact, in raising young men, I encourage those things.

Can bad attitudes begin to show themselves? Of course. Yet, if something is evil because there is the possibility that bad attitudes may arise during it, I would need to encase them in carbonite and put them on a shelf for the rest of their lives, as they have amply demonstrated over the course of their young lives that bad attitudes can show up during most any activity. (How can singing hymns or praying start a fight? Well, believe me, it can. 🙂 )

No, tackling is not inherently evil. I’ve seen good friends and brothers play a great game of tackle football, and with good attitudes the whole time. To say that tackling is inherently evil, they would have to prove that this is impossible. Can it be done in an evil fashion? Sure. But we’ll get to that later.

What else could make football inherently evil? Maybe a hateful attitude, huh? That certainly wouldn’t be right, and Christ condemns anyone who “is angry with his brother without a cause” and one would certainly be hard pressed to prove that being one’s opponent in a football game is just cause for anger or hatred.

Yet, what sport is immune to such possibility of “attitudinal abuse”? I’ve seen hateful attitudes among tennis players, baseball players, basketball players, soccer players, chess players, et al. (At least one chess champion used to say that to play the game best you had to hate your opponent.) If it’s not hate and anger, maybe it’s vanity — after all, many a display we see on the football field reflects a spirit of vanity. Yet, what sport is immune to this, either? Golf? Badminton? Track and Field events? Rock, Paper, Scissors? Sorry–I think we’ve seen vanity and self-glorifying celebration just about everywhere.

No, there is no inherent evil in football because of attitude, as it is not necessary to play with such an attitude. Again, how many people out there have played football with friends or family–even “tackle” football–and not hated your opponent? I have. In fact, playing against my closest friends was part of what made it more fun. We were enjoying the game together. If the possibility of bad attitude–or the predominance of bad attitude at the professional levels of the sport–made a sport inherently evil, then virtually every sport would be out. (Even a game of “pick up sticks.” Again, I have boys.)

Well, perhaps it is because the game is so competitive. After all, the whole goal of the defense is to prevent the offense from scoring, and the goal of the offense is to score despite the efforts of the defense. Does this make it inherently evil?

If so, it makes virtually all team sports evil. Tennis is evil. Basketball is evil. Baseball is evil. Soccer is evil. Badminton is evil. Cricket is evil. Volleyball is evil. Tetherball is evil. Shuffleboard is evil. Staring contests are evil. Thumb wars (a big part of my courtship with my future wife) are evil.

Competition in sport is not evil, if, again, it is played with a proper attitude. In fact, the act of playing well and striving to win but with a good attitude that respects your opponent and keeps it fun for all is what we call good sportsmanship. In our Church, we’ve always recognized that if played with an attitude of good sportsmanship, competition can be helpful, encouraging an opponent to play at his best by playing at our best, ourselves. In this way, competition in football is no different than competition in checkers.

What about the presence of malice in football–does this make it inherently evil? Well, if malice–the intent to cause physical or mental harm and damage–were a necessary part of the game, then yes it would. And surely some football players do this, and that is wrong. But not only is it not necessary in playing football, purposeful causing of harm is just as present in other sports. We see pitchers purposefully bean other players in baseball, for instance. In a world that teaches winning at all costs, a “Sweep the leg, Johnny” attitude is everywhere. (Yes, I know most of you will not get the “Johnny” reference. But some of you will!) Again, it has been seen in some of the most famous chess matches in history.

But the possibility of malice does not make the sport inherently evil any more than the possibility of other bad attitudes, as discussed above. In fact, one of the most vicious attacks on another person in sports I have ever seen was performed in a soccer match. Does that make soccer a sport that is somehow inherently evil? No. And neither does it make football so.

One of the best cases against football, in my opinion, is the risk of injury–and playing football definitely has this potential. Oddly, the use of the modern football helmet may make the risk of injury worse, since it gives players an illusion of safety, when unsafe and injurious play is still very possible with a helmet. The forces involved in a head-to-head collision can exceed the helmet’s ability to protect the brain. Do such forces have to be invoked? No. But do many players choose to play that way? Surely so. Many have even recommended going back to the “olden days” leather helmets, which will encourage more safety conscious play. (I’ve read that hard, modern helmets do a better job against catastrophic skull fractures, but are actually less effective than the old leather gear in the lesser-but-still-harmful-jostling that goes on.)

Of course risk of injury is always present in almost any activity. (The actuary in me can’t help but seeing risk everywhere.) The question is how it’s managed. And in professional football, it’s clear that many ignore wisdom for the sake of making it into the end zone.

But does that make the sport inherently evil?  “Evil” is a moral distinction, not to be bandied about lightly. Doing something unwise, for instance, is not the same as doing something evil. Lack of wisdom is not identical to being evil, or else Jesus Christ, who grew in wisdom over the course of His life (Luke 2:52), would be guilty of some sort of evil, and of course He was not.

No, it can’t be considered evil just because it is played by some unwisely, especially the higher one gets into the “money” of the sport. In fact, the risk of injury is present in many sports. How many baseball players have ruined their arms by repeated, unnatural use? Does it make baseball evil? No. But the limits that many are willing to cross in the pursuit of “glory” and higher bonuses is, indeed, a shame.

(Speaking of money, this was one thing the club this morning seemed in total agreement about: Professional sports would be a thing of the past. The idea that people doing virtually nothing productive for society should be rewarded beyond the wildest dreams of even kings and queens of times past is a joke–a sad joke, indeed. And many of the corruptions of sports that we’ve mentioned on this page often seem tied to the presence of way too much money in those sports.)

As I told the scared elderly woman in my congregation, no, football is not inherently evil, let alone watching football. In fact, back when Mr. Herbert Armstrong was alive not only did the Church help out with the Rose Parade, which had become intimately and inseparably identified with the Rose Bowl football game (so much so that it’s often called by many the “Rose Bowl Parade”), we also published an article in the Plain Truth back in November 1969 under Mr. Armstrong’s watchful eye, in which Mr. Eugene Walter wrote in an article “Thanksgiving Day… What Does It Mean to You?”:

“There is nothing necessarily wrong with good food, family reunions and football games on Thanksgiving Day. But all too many use these activities wrongly and forget the purpose for the holiday.”

This is essentially the same point that I am making here. (And I had to remind this kind woman about this fact.) There is nothing inherently wrong with football games, nor in watching them. But it can be made wrong in the use and abuse of it.

Actually, Mr. Armstrong, himself, spoke about football at least once and did so rather negatively. In another old Plain Truth (June-July 1984) he explained why they did not have tackle football at Ambassador College, though they did have flag football. But he has to be read carefully. Actually, the principles he describes in his article are the very same ones I’ve used here. As he says, “It [that is, football] too often is played in an attitude of hostility and is dangerous and fraught with physical injury” (emphasis mine). And this is true: “too often” (not always) these things are the case. In fact, since then such attitudes and disregard for injury have, all the more, permeated virtually all of sports, it seems. While I would probably word some of the things Mr. Armstrong wrote differently (it’s a given, since I’m a different writer), the principles he espouses are spot on, and, as he says in the article, his intention was “to illustrate the application of the principle of God’s law to sports.”  If I were running a college, I might not include football as an organized sport either if I saw that it had too great a potential for bad attitude and injury. Other sports might meet a stop sign from me, too. But does that make the sport inherently evil? As Mr. Armstrong says in the very same article, “Sometimes there is a fine line between what is within and what is outside God’s law.”

A fine line indeed. And to paint thick boundaries with a broad brush when Mr. Armstrong recommended a fine line would be a mistake.

As I reassured the wonderful, elderly lady in my congregation: No, she was not sinning by enjoying a football game on television — depending, of course, on why she was enjoying it.

And as the general conclusion was in Spokesman Club this morning, there will likely be many sports played in the Millennium among friends, with football possibly among them, as well as soccer, volleyball, et al. — not only a host of sports that we enjoy today, but very likely sports that have not even been invented yet.  Sports — played well, fairly, and with a good attitude — are a great deal of fun and a great way to learn how to do your best while enjoying yourself at the same time. (Not mention that for those who are glorified in our future state, it may be a lot of fun to play ball when “go long” means flying to the other side of Jupiter.)

But will Madonna perform during the halftime of any of those sports?  Maybe someone will ask that at our next Spokesman Club meeting…

21 thoughts on “Will There Be Football in the Millennium?

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    I think I know what disturbed the elderly lady. And I’m reminded all the more of our need to “speak the same thing” and if we’re laymen (or even if we’re not), to hold ourselves accountable to the way God works through us directly and through those He sets over us – and to keep the two in balance with each other.

    From another angle, and more for the benefit of non-Americans, I understand there’s a saying in Great Britain: “Rugby is a thug’s game played by gentlemen; football [soccer] is a gentleman’s game played by thugs.” I think we can safely say that both extremes won’t be part of millennial life. 🙂

  2. texasborn

    Mr. Smith, since you discussed money being a factor in why men play football, the lexicographer in me stirred me to action to submit that the word “amateur” means, in the context of sports, a lover of the game, and not for any money. I just can not envision in the millennium of Christ’s reign, of grown men being remunerated for playing what was originally designed to be a child’s game, where delight and laughter were prevalent and the only rewards were compliments of the game being played well, with the added incentive of food and drink being served later after the game! (Hot chocolate in the fall and winter, and Kool-Aid in the spring and summer)

  3. Todd Carriles

    How do you figure Mr. Smith??(respectively), Mr. Armstrong said American football was evil ! Just as he said the work is not yet finished ! Why would he say American football is evil,if he didn’t think so? Sincerely respectful Todd

  4. Glory Talbott

    In an article I saw recently, it quote Mr Armstrong with the same quote you did, but also said something to the effect that soccer was ok. In Egypt recently, at a soccer game 70+ were killed (fans crushing each other) at a game. Then, when another soccer game was canceled, people set the field on fire. It is NOT the sport….it is the right or wrong use of it. Like Mr Armstrong also said, it’s not the thing that is wrong but the wrong/right use of it. We personally watched the Superbowl today. It was not in a spirit of hatred or in hoping someone gets hurt. It was seeing those play a game where they did their best and we had laughs over the finishing touchdown that won the game coming from a player’s buttcheeks (the winning touch down). My husband and I have discussed sports in wondering what God would think. Jesus Christ wrestled with Jacob and it was not soft wrestling-Jacob’s hip came out of joint! I think that men are made physical and as long as they can play with a right spirit, it is fine. We don’t have TV stations and rarely watch anything, so the Superbowl is the one time a year we even see a game. But we do enjoy it and I do not see anything wrong with it (other than the sleazy half time shows-that is a time to get some more pizza or use the restroom;) Actually what I like best about the Superbowl, is being able to get some of my sewing done while we sit at the game! 🙂 It is not an obsession and I think it can be watched without the wrong spirit. I think you gave the little lady at your church good advice! 🙂

  5. Though it exists on the part of certain individuals, I don’t think malice is the main problem with professional football. The culprit is the pressure to perform, to succeed. There are millions if not billions of dollars involved. It forces players to exert themselves to extreme limits. Look at the long trail of human wreckage.

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with touch or flag football (except for the time I blocked a punt with my face).

  6. Thanks, Mr. Carriles. I’m not in the business of quoting portions of Mr. Armstrong’s words while ignoring the points he was making. By the principles he illustrated, one cannot, in a blanket fashion, state that football is inherently evil (which he does not say as you forcefully do in your comment), just as one cannot say that soccer is inherently not evil. To take his few words on why he was not going to have tackle football at AC and turn it into a universal condemnation of an entire sport as inherently evil would be to miss the forest (the excellent principles he taught) for the trees (unthinkingly citing his words to make a statement bigger than he did while ignoring the whole point of his article). Be sure to read his entire article, not just a little quote. To conclude that he, under all conditions, would believe football to be inherently evil makes little sense, just as it makes little sense to say that he was saying soccer and basketball are inherently good. The key is to apply the principles he was teaching in the article. That’s what I’ve striven to do above, and what I strove to teach my church member to do (though she had not read his article).

    If you fault how I’ve applied the principles he taught, please feel free to take the time to show me the principle that I’ve misapplied. I’m all ears — or, as it were, all eyes! (Seriously: Feel free to let me know what you think if you feel I’ve misapplied one of the specific principles he taught. I’d be happy to hear from you about it.)

    And thanks to the rest of you, too. Deano: No, no scantily dressed dancing girls. Glory: Great point about soccer; what a sad event that was. Steve: Sorry about your face. 🙂

  7. Michael O'Byrne

    Will there be ” football ” in the Millennium? Good question, Mr. Smith! Having read the article ” here’s why football is called soccer in America and Canada ” – likewise in the Irish Republic and by Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland and elsewhere – I would, as an Irishman, have to concede that soccer is entitled to the term football before American football, the Gaelic game in Ireland, rugby worldwide and Australian rules because in soccer the ball is primarily moved by the use of the foot.. However the next game with a secondary claim to be described as football would be the Gaelic game as in that game too it is mainly by kicking that the ball is moved, but players also runnning with the ball tapping it from their toe to their hands. But which football will be played in hte Millennium? I think all of them will be played, but with real fair-play, with skill and stamina, showing respect to the other team and without acrimonious competition and for fun

  8. Michael O'Byrne

    I should have also said – the games the sport will be played, as the terms implies, as sport and not conducted with a war mentality.

  9. Todd Carriles

    Hi Mr. Smith
    This is from The Plain Truth July/August 1984 Mr. Armstrong quote “Wherever a game in sports involves antagonists in hostile attitude to Harm the other and/or “get” from the other-to get the best of the other, then a harmful,satanic and EVIL attitude enters in,and the sport is EVIL not good”. Further Mr. Armstrong says. “Football(American football)is a violent body contact sport. It’s often played with an attitude of hostility and is dangerous and is fraught with physical injury. Soccer does not embody the same EVILS. I think Mr. Armstrong strongly suggested American football was EVIL.

    The defense if allowed would love to physically hurt the starting quarterback(on every snap of the ball) and take him out of the game ASAP. I sure wouldn’t like to see my son blindsided by a 300 pound muscleman running full steam. I don’t think Jesus Christ would consider that entertainment either. It’s no wonder to me ( in satans world )that American football is one of Americas favorite sports.

    It brings tears to my eyes when I see Mr. Gleason(former N.O. Saints player)now with brain
    damage stumbling while walking hand in hand with his pregnant wife. Doctors said he suffered one too many concussions. Wow what a good hit that was!! Sincerely respectful Todd

    I do believe every time the ball is hiked the defense would like to spike the quarterback on his head,break his arm and take him out of the game,and do to him whatever they could get away with without getting fined and to win

  10. Howdy, again, Mr. Carriles. Yes, that’s the same article I referenced, but you need to read the entire article and learn the principles he was trying to teach, which I tried to explain both in the blog bost and in the response.

    It’s important to note your valid qualifications: “I think…” & “I believe…” — it’s good to admit those are personal conclusions, and there’s nothing wrong with personal conclusions. And it’s important to note, because there are several things you’ve said that simply cannot be said to be universally true, nor would they make the game inherently evil. We can look at it in both directions. For one, there are soccer players who are just as vicious and nasty as what you attribute to (American) football players. Do their attitudes make the sport of soccer inherently evil? Ditto for basketball: Does that make basketball, as a sport, inherently evil?

    In the other direction, no, not every defensive player wants to “spike the quarterback on his head, break his arm, and take him out of the game.” How can you speak in such a manner about so many people you have never met? Not only does Jesus Christ forbid us from doing so as casually as you have done here (accidentally, to be sure), but also it flies in the face of facts, as those defensive linebackers are real human beings who live and talk and reveal their personalities, goals, and ambitions. When some of them express their respect and even affection for an opposing quarterback and express their desire to play a fair game and even pray to God (as they (mis)understand him, perhaps) that no one get hurt in the game, why would you assume the opposite of them?

    As for injuries, just because football is more public in America don’t think that devastating injuries occur no where else. I’ve seen a man’s leg snapped like a twig in soccer. Again, does it mean that soccer is evil? Of course not. Even in Track and Field, we see illegal drug use, health-destroying training regimes, etc. The American College of Sports Medicine once reported that 25% of all female runners are amenorrheic, and 75% of those runners have osteopenia or osteoporosis. Is it then inherently evil for females to run, or is it the abuse of the body that is wrong? You can argue that the probabilities involved in football are the thing that makes it inherently evil (and note: “inherently evil” is a strong phrase, please don’t miss my use of it), but I would then have to ask you where the borderline is between “too high” a probability and “too low.” You may have such a border, but let’s not pretend to know with confidence that it matches God’s.

    I’m not saying there isn’t abuse, corrupting influence, bad attitudes, etc. in football, like there is many sports. And the amount of money in football goes along way toward encouraging the wrong things–again, as it does in other high money sports. Mankind is still mankind. But to declare all the sport of football “inherently evil” based on such things would not only go a step beyond the point Mr. Armstrong was making in my opinion, it would capture virtually any sport one can think of. And the sad thing is that Mr. Armstrong was trying not to create some canonical list of good and evil sports, but rather to teach us to apply God’s law in making determinations about such things. To parrot a few sentences instead of applying the principles he was teaching would be the antithesis of what he was trying to achieve, and I respect him to much to do that.

    Would you view a horrific and violent personal foul in soccer (or the tragic number of people killed at a soccer game in Egypt recently) and say, “Well, that’s OK. Mr. Armstrong said soccer was not evil”? Of course not. So why would you view virtuous action, real skill, and honorable & respectful fair play in football and then say, “Well, football often can exhibit evil attitudes according to Mr. Armstrong, so those things must be evil, too”? Of course you wouldn’t. And I believe Mr. Armstrong would think it ridiculous if you did. (Though I’m glad that we’ll get to ask him one day!)

    So feel free to disagree with me in my stance of neutrality on the matter of the sport. (I only saw the last 39 seconds of the Super Bowl last night, myself, after which we switched back to the Puppy Bowl to see the terribly exciting Kitty Half-Time Show.) And feel free to fault me for using and applying the principles Mr. Armstrong taught to make judgments about such things, as was his goal. I’m a big boy, and I can take it. Two people of good will, good intention, and solid principles can certainly disagree on a matter like this.

    But let’s not elevate ourselves as unappointed judges and make declarations of “good” and “evil” beyond what we should, and let’s call judgment calls for what they are: judgment calls. Football can be abused and can provide a home for many wrongs — of course this is true, as it is for many sports. And if those abuses cause some to turn away from viewing it or enjoying it (as football has done on occasion for my family, especially during the Michael Irvin/cocaine days), who could blame them for that? But to designate the entire sport, in itself and under all conditions, “inherently evil”? Let’s reserve such strong words for topics more worthy of our efforts rather than risk accidentally castigating anyone who wants to go out into their yard with their kids or friends and play a little tackle football or — as we mentioned in the Plain Truth — watch a good game on Thanksgiving. Agreed? Agreed. 🙂

  11. Glory Talbott

    I whole-heartily agree with Mr Smith on looking on the intent of Mr Armstrong’s writing. It was not to draw a thick line on which sports are ok, but to look at the attitude of how we play. I would like to comment on soccer as well, since it was said to be ok-again we need to look on how it is played. There is wrong and right way to play any sports. There is a right and a wrong way to to use the internet. There is a right and a wrong way to go about working in the workforce. And etc….

    So onto the subject of soccer… My daughter played soccer for years because she enjoyed the sport. She was a handful of a child, a bundle of energy. Soccer was the one thing that wore her out, making her much easier to deal with at home. Putting her into soccer was one of the best things I did to help channel her energy elsewhere. There were games she played that were really fun and everyone had a good attitude. I taught my daughter not to focus on winning but to focus on doing her best and enjoying the game. I did however (because we ALL live in Satan’s world and we are not living in a bubble) see wrong attitudes in soccer. Sometimes a parent would be angry about something. Sometimes a coach would push the kids to just focus on winning and not just enjoying the sport itself. There were times I saw that the team members cared about each other and had good sportsmanship. There were other times, I saw that they were pitted against each other in a wrong attitude. A kid may try and break a rule and push another child hard. Some kids WOULD focus on winning and cry if they did not win the game.
    There is a right and wrong way to play ANY sport. We will see wrong attitudes in EVERYTHING if we open our eyes to what is happening in this world. We could honestly avoid everything to try and not see worldly things, and live like a hermit. All in all, I think the soccer was very good for my daughter and we enjoyed the season. She finally had to quit because the games were all on Saturday, instead of Thursday (younger kids played on Thursday).

    I think football, soccer, and many other sports can be played in a right way. It is because we live in Satan’s world we will see things that are not done with the right attitude and with the give way of God. You can see that anywhere, including the workplace. My husband sees wrong attitudes at work, meetings that waste time, loopholes people take that does not benefit the company, etc. But he still has to work. We all have to keep living and do OUR personal best to live according to God’s principals.

    In our home, my husband wrestles with our 2 daughters. They also play football. They really enjoy themselves and it is not done with a wrong spirit. The girls seem to need “daddy time” and my husband provides activity and a different type of parenting that I cannot or do not naturally care to do. I provide more of a nurturing soft approach-teaching them sewing, cooking ,etc because God made men and women different and we fulfill different needs that our children have. Our daughters need both types of parenting. It would be a shame if we took out the physical aspect of fun with daddy. They really love the wrestling and playing football with their dad. I think it bonds them.

    I remember reading about how Jesus Christ himself wrestled with Jacob and afterwards Jacob was blessed. Now if we watch wrestling on TV, obviously you can see many wrong things because this is Satan’s world. The arrogance of the players are amazing. I do not watch wrestling on TV but when I have flipped through the channels (when we had TV stations, we do not currently have TV stations), it was not something that looked good at all. Still Jesus Christ WRESTLED in a right way. So, that tells me one thing, it is ok to be physical and play games, but it has to be done God’s way.

    I absolutely think there will be sports in the Millennium and I am not much of a sports person at all Trust me, I could personally honestly care less and the only really I went to see the Superbowl at a friend’s house with my husband was to try and be interested in what my husband is interested in. I sat and sewed on the couch and I even fell ASLEEP on the couch during part of it because it was so boring to me;). But I know there will be boys growing up in the Millennium and I think there will be games done in the right spirit and in the right way. The games will not be like the ones we see today because there will only be the RIGHT attitudes at that time. I look forward to God’s kingdom and look forward to a different world. It will be a breath of fresh air to all of us and everything will be different than it is today. It will be so wonderful! I hope you all have a lovely week and God bless you all! 🙂 ~Glory

  12. Glory Talbott

    Just one more comment-one time we went to a hockey game and it was so horrible that I walked out with my family-we were NOT going to watch that type of game. It was violent and the players played with a wrong spirit, fighting and acting terrible. Another time we went after that, only because we were given free tickets from someone and I badly wanted to go with my husband out on a date without the children (it’s rare). I was really hoping the hockey game would not be icky like the one I saw before. Well, guess what? This second game we went to was TOTALLY different. It was done in the right spirit and I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun to watch and this game did not have fighting. If it was not done properly and there was fighting, I was willing to walk out. We just have to see how the game is played, it makes ALL the difference!

  13. I’ve spent many hours pondering and studying this very question after observing my own brittle attitude when participating in sports, either playing in or being a spectator. I’ve also been given the opportunity to help organize several sporting events. That in itself has shown me a completely different angle of how sports can affect people. I would occasionally find myself up to my neck with complaints about organization and rules, disputes over poor reffing and scorekeeping, not to mention trying to keep bad attitudes and injuries to a minimum. It would annoy me to no end to see this carnal behavior in others! Yet when I played the games myself, I would notice my temperature rising towards an opponent or a teammate. There was a ton of carnality everywhere!

    I’ve heard it said time and again that if you want to see the true nature of a man, play sports with him. But I’ve also seen the seen this same truism with cards and board games. Will they cheat or take short cuts? Are they a sore loser? Do they gloat or act overly smug after winning? If you look carefully enough, this is possibly how they act in business and elsewhere, too. This sort of person could negatively influence any activity.

    Does the sport itself invite corruption, or is the individual playing it corrupt? Does the sport cause obsession, or is the fan just obsessive? Unfortunately, I found it very hard to peer through the dozens of layers of filth surrounding sports today to rediscover a pure game that can be played with hard work and a desire to do well, yet without malice and unsportsmanlike conduct. Likewise, just because the negative behaviors in sports can be highly contagious doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to exercise self-control in avoiding them myself. Sports can serve as a magnifying lens to viewing our innermost character.

    I’ve asked myself before if the underlying problems in sports was competition. Do we need to compare ourselves against others to see who is better? If so, is there anything inherently wrong with comparisons? Yes, ideas about competition have spawned greedy capitalism and the theory of evolution. However, the book of Proverbs helps us compare our own actions to wise and foolish behavior. God also judges between the actions of the wicked and the righteous and consistently chooses the latter. We probably need to reflect on what is our motivation in comparing ourselves against others. Am I playing to improve myself or just to exalt myself?

    A single game doesn’t prove you’re a success or a failure. Rather, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate our current level of talent, training, strategy, focus, concentration and teamwork. The result of the contest demonstrates reality: Am I as good as I thought I was in my mind? How well do I respond to adversity? Did I sacrifice for the sake of the team, or was I trying to be the lone hero? How courageous am I? Do I need to practice more? Am I willing to put in more effort to get to the next level, or are there more important things to work on in other areas of my life right now? What is my attitude towards all this?

    I think sports, not to mention other competitive activities, are a powerful tool with powerful results that can cause a powerful emotional response, which is why society spends so much time, money and energy on them. If they’re being misused in specific areas, as Glory said, we should probably avoid those times. If we use them correctly, we can learn a lot about ourselves and grow in the process… and I suppose having a little fun while we’re at it.

  14. Norbert

    Professional hockey management has noted that their gameplay is affected by the advancement of technology. As the equipment became more protective with modern materials and engineering, so too an increase was noted of players causing trauma to other players, especially with the use of their elbow.

    Players no longer needed to worry much about the cost of injuring their own elbow at the expense of their opponants body. Basically if a player no longer needs to be concerned about slamming his elbow hard into the boards, why give any thought if an opponant has his head in the way? Football probably has a similiar issues with protective equipment.

    In my view a game such as tackle Football can continue into the millenium because I believe it is possible to train in the self disicipline and self control needed to perform bodily actions with a mindset of “do no harm”. Even at the expense of losing a game because of it. Such a philosophy is sorely lacking in todays sports. Winning is NOT everything when it comes to “games”, it certainly is something worthwhile to persue but definitely not at the cost of injuring your brother.

  15. I’m not sure that there’s much difference between Mr Smith and Mr Carriles. One pointed out the principles behind HWA’s article. The other pointed out his assessment of professional football in our current world.

  16. Thanks, so much, Mr. Morris! I can certainly understand why that article would influence you to make such a choice. It doesn’t make football inherently evil as a sport, of course, and I do think that the dogfighting analogy is a bit strained at times; yet many are probably unfamiliar with the head injury controversy in football, especially professional football, and that article provides a crash course (no pun intended). I was already familiar with the HITS software and findings, which is one reason I’m sympathetic to the “return to leather helmets” movement in the sport, if only to remove the illusion of invincibility.

    The article is clearly advocating a position instead of simply reporting, yet for anyone out there for whom the issue of head injuries in the NFL is a new one, the article should provide a real education and a great deal to think about. Thanks so much, Mr. Morris, for giving us the link!

  17. I think I know where the latest discussion on the “evilness” of American football began – and it’s interesting to see there can be diverse viewpoints on this issue within LCG.

    In the meantime, I’ve seen no one criticize an even wilder brand of “football.” Looking forward to the new Australian Rules season, beginning next weekend! 🙂

  18. Thanks, Richard, for your comment. I know here it started with our Spokesman Club topic and the concerns of one of my elderly church members. But as for diversity, it’s not as though whether or not watching football is inherently evil is a matter of Church doctrine, so I’m not sure why you’d be surprised that there are differences of opinion. Differences of opinion are part of what makes Tabletopics so much fun! 🙂

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