Category Archives: Sports

We should be gospel-centered and that referee is a moron: On sports and the Christian’s tendency to take it too far

Angry Sports FanaticI want to start by acknowledging that I am one who has over the course of time (and by the grace of God) become increasingly aware of my own guilt regarding the sin about which I write. I’m a Christian and a sports fan, and it’s been that way for practically all of my life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Sports has been an avenue for my enjoyment of the glory of God, just plain entertaining, and an agent of sanctification.

More agent of sanctification in the past couple of years than before, though, and for that I thank God. Perhaps part of it has to do with being the father of a ten-year-old son, himself a believer and sports fan, and wanting to train him up in the way he should go. In any event, I’ve enjoyed what has become (for the most part) a growing emotional detachment from the results of games. I’ve enjoyed not getting inappropriately excited over my team’s successes, and likewise, I’ve enjoyed not getting angry or sad at the opposite.

Do I still enjoy watching games? Very much. Do I still root hard for my teams? Absolutely. And do I still like it when my teams’ rivals fall flat on their face? Sure. That’s part of enjoying sports. But things are different now than they used to be. Continue reading

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What if… Michael Jordan had stayed for his senior season at Carolina?

Jordan went on to win another National Championship and National Player of the Year award in 1985 before being drafted #1 by the New York Knicks.Are you ready for a completely pointless post? Well, you got it! And just so you know I didn’t sit down and do this all at once. This happened in small bits, not that that’s an excuse.

“What if” questions are usually stupid, but I think it’s fun to wonder how things might be different sometimes. I especially like doing this in something non-serious like sports. So with all the hoopla about Michael Jordan turning 50 today, and me being a big fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels, I was reading an article about Jordan’s college days in which he said he was still bitter about the 1984 NCAA Tournament loss to Indiana and only agreed to go pro after Coach Dean Smith advised him to. But what if he’d stayed for one more season? How might UNC basketball history be different? How might the NBA?

Let’s start with the 1984 NBA Draft. With Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie gone 1 and 2, the third pick went to the Chicago Bulls, who had to choose between another Tar Heel in Sam Perkins and Auburn standout Charles Barkley. They went with the more explosive Barkley, who had a productive career and several playoff runs with the Bulls, but only got to the conference finals once, where they were dispatched by the Knicks. As for Jordan, he went on to win a gold medal for the USA in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Bob Knight coached the team and said he never got more from a player in his career than he did from Jordan. Continue reading

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The wrong emPHAsis: A word on First Baptist Church of Dallas’s statement regarding Tim Tebow’s withdrawal

Robert JeffressWe had a joke back when I was taking Biblical Greek. When we worked on pronunciation and somebody got it wrong, somebody would say, “You put the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle.” And for the purposes of you getting that, emphasize the caps and you’ll get it.

Well, today the big news has been the withdrawal of Tim Tebow from a speaking engagement at First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX. To read more of my thoughts regarding Tebow, I encourage you to read my post on the subjectContinue reading

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Tim Tebow has made a grievous mistake (Part commentary, part open letter)

tebowphil413siI have been a fan of Tim Tebow since 2006. When Steve Spurrier coached the Florida Gators I couldn’t stand them, but when Chris Leak went there I began to cheer for them. Leak was an All-Everything quarterback for my alma mater, the Independence Patriots. And in Leak’s senior year he led them to the National Championship. But even though Leak was the starter, it seemed his backup was getting more buzz than he was. Tebow was a freshman that year, and many Gator fans seemed to want him in the lineup more than Leak.

Nevertheless, the more I learned about Tebow the more I liked him. You know the story. Here was an outspoken Christian, the son of missionaries, willing to write Bible verses on his eye-black and speak openly about his faith in Jesus Christ. He didn’t get into trouble off the field, played great on the field, and was committed to his team, but more important, his Savior. He went on to win the Heisman Trophy and another National Championship as the starting quarterback, and was drafted by the NFL’s Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Tebow’s outspoken Christianity already gained him critics before he left Gainesville, but it seems like the moment he threw his last college pass they got a lot louder. Never mind his winning record, this guy was going to be a bust. He can’t throw the ball like an NFL quarterback, they said. He doesn’t have what it takes to win at that level, they said. And yet, underneath all of that as he was leading the Broncos to the playoffs in his second season was an undercurrent of hatred for the One he had placed his faith in. Continue reading

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A rant on the Olympics dropping wrestling

Rulon Gardner entered Olympic lore when he beat the unbeatable Russian for the gold in 2000.Today the International Olympic Committee announced that wrestling has been dropped from its list of “core sports,” making it very unlikely we will see it in the Olympics beginning in 2020. The announcement is just the latest in a string of decisions regarding the inclusion and exclusion of sports over the last 20 years that have the Olympics losing relevancy little by little.

More and more, the Summer Games are becoming about two sports: swimming and gymnastics. These are the sports that move the television needle and for good reason. They are exciting to watch every four years and their audiences include both men AND women. Television ratings equal advertising dollars for networks and advertising dollars for networks equal bigger and bigger rights fees paid to… the International Olympic Committee.

But the Olympic ideal is suffering when wrestling, one of the oldest sports in the Olympics, if not the original sport, is excluded. Think about those ancient Greek pictures of athletic competition you see? What are they doing? They’re wrestling. And real wrestling has produced some great Olympic moments over the past twenty years. I specifically remember seeing Kurt Angle win the gold in 1996, but especially, I remember watching Rulon Gardner beat that Russian in 2000 who hadn’t lost since the Bolshevik Revolution. Wrestling is pretty much the ultimate one-on-one, who’s better sport that exists. It’s not for everybody, but it’s pure, and not malicious. And it’s an Olympic icon. Continue reading

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My 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket

I am a FIRM believer in getting your bracket done before the first game, and the first game is TONIGHT, not on Thursday. Thus, what follows are my picks for the 2011 NCAA Tournament. These predictions are sure to go wrong, but that’s okay. We don’t make the picks because we are smart. We make the picks because it is fun.

Anyway, some comments on the bracket itself before we get to the picks themselves… 1) When have we ever been able to say that Duke has a “tough road” to the Final Four? We certainly can’t say it this year, and I can’t remember the last time it could be said. San Diego State, UConn, and Texas are their 2-4. Good teams, but when you compare them to the other top four seeds I think Duke was blessed by the selection committee (again). 2) The committee did overall top seed Ohio State no favors, placing them with Carolina, Syracuse, and Kentucky.

Anyway, on to the picks…

First Four picks: UT-San Antonio over Alabama State, Clemson over UAB, USC over Virginia Commonwealth, and UNC-Asheville over Arkansas-Little Rock.

EAST REGION

Second Round: 1 Ohio State over 16 UT-San Antonio, 8 George Mason over 9 Villanova, 12 Clemson over 5 West Virginia, 4 Kentucky over 13 Princeton, 6 Xavier over 11 Marquette, 3 Syracuse over 14 Indiana State, 7 Washington over 10 Georgia, 2 North Carolina over 15 Long Island U… Thoughts: Villanova has lost five straight going into the tournament and Mason is the chic pick to beat them. Even though I’m picking Mason it wouldn’t surprise me if Nova bounced back for at least a game.

Third Round: 1 Ohio State over 8 George Mason, 4 Kentucky over 12 Clemson, 6 Xavier over 3 Syracuse, 2 North Carolina over 7 Washington.

Regional Semifinals: 1 Ohio State over 4 Kentucky, 2 North Carolina over 6 Xavier… Thoughts: This bracket was made for my church. I’m a Heels fan. My church is about an hour from Columbus and Cincinnati, and my worship song leader has UK season tickets.

Regional Final: 2 North Carolina over 1 Ohio State… Thoughts: What did you expect?

WEST REGION

Second Round: 1 Duke over 16 Hampton, 9 Tennessee over 8 Michigan, 5 Arizona over 12 Memphis, 4 Texas over 13 Oakland (despite Jay Bilas’s upset call), 11 Missouri over 6 Cincinnati, 3 Connecticut over 14 Bucknell, 7 Temple over 10 Penn State, 2 San Diego State over Northern Colorado.

Third Round: 9 Tennessee over 1 Duke (BOOM!), 4 Texas over 5 Arizona, 3 Connecticut over 11 Missouri, 2 San Diego State over 7 Temple… Thoughts: This will NOT be a home game for Dook. Not with Heels fans dominating Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte and a good chunk of Tennessee fans on hand.

Regional Semifinals: 4 Texas over 9 Tennessee, 3 Connecticut over 2 San Diego State.

Regional Final: 3 Connecticut over 4 Texas… Thoughts: Kemba Walker convinced me in the Big East Tournament.

SOUTHWEST REGION

Second Round: 1 Kansas over 16 Boston U, 8 UNLV over 9 Illinois, 12 Richmond over 5 Vanderbilt, 4 Louisville over 13 Morehead State, 6 Georgetown over 11 USC, 3 Purdue over 14 St. Peter’s, 10 Florida State over 7 Texas A&M, 2 Notre Dame over 15 Akron.

Third Round: 1 Kansas over 8 UNLV, 4 Louisville over 12 Richmond, 3 Purdue over 6 Georgetown, 2 Notre Dame over 10 Florida State.

Regional Semifinals: 1 Kansas over 4 Louisville, 2 Notre Dame over 3 Purdue.

Regional Finals: 1 Kansas over 2 Notre Dame… Thoughts: A lot of chalk in this region, but look out for Florida State with Chris Singleton supposedly coming back. I don’t think they’ll win the region but they could make it to the second weekend.

SOUTHEAST REGION

Second Round: 1 Pittsburgh over 16 UNC-Asheville, 8 Butler over 9 Old Dominion, 12 Utah State over 5 Kansas State, 4 Wisconsin over 13 Belmont, 6 St. John’s over 11 Gonzaga, 3 BYU over 14 Wofford, 10 Michigan State over 7 UCLA, 2 Florida over 15 UC-Santa Barbara.

Third Round: 1 Pittsburgh over 8 Butler, 12 Utah State over 4 Wisconsin, 3 BYU over 6 St. John’s, 10 Michigan State over 2 Florida… Thoughts: Two double-digit seeds make the Sweet 16 in this region.

Regional Semifinals: 1 Pittsburgh over 12 Utah State, 3 BYU over 10 Michigan State… Thoughts: I really like Utah State and could see them pulling the upset here, and I think Jimmer puts BYU on his back.

Regional Final: 1 Pittsburgh over 3 BYU.

FINAL FOUR

National Semifinals: 2E North Carolina over 3W Connecticut, 1SE Pittsburgh over 1SW Kansas.

National Championship: NORTH CAROLINA over Pittsburgh.

2011 NCAA CHAMPIONS

Really? You expected something different? Like objectivity? Go Heels!!!

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A Carolina comeback in one minute

After the high of beating Duke last Saturday night to win the ACC regular season championship outright, the North Carolina Tar Heels leaped to #6 and #7 in the two polls and became a trendy pick to steal one of the last #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Then they responded by shooting 6-for-21 and committing fifteen turnovers in the first half against ninth-seeded Miami in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. At one point in the second half they were down nineteen and Heels fans, myself included, were giving up. Yet, after playing about as badly as possible they began shooting the lights out and Miami, who had come from ten down in the final minute against Virginia the previous day to win in overtime, started pulling a Virginia-esque implosion. Incredibly, the Heels’ first lead of the day came with the buzzer sounding, as Tyler Zeller’s layup, leaving his hands with about .1 or .2 left on the clock, went in for the 61-59 win.

Here is their comeback, YouTube style, in a minute…

Go Heels!!!

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Book Review: “Pujols: More Than the Game” by Tim Ellsworth and Scott Lamb

In a day when heroes seem hard to find in the sports world, in the words of ESPN college football personality Lee Corso, Tim Ellsworth and Scott Lamb say, “Not so fast my friend” in their biography of three-time National League Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols, Pujols: More Than the Game.

Beginning with his humble beginnings in the Dominican Republic, the authors chronicle Pujols’s migration to America and to the game of baseball, which, as Ellsworth and Lamb point out, is the real religion of Pujols’s native land. But the book is more than a history of his life and his baseball career, although the baseball fan will not be disappointed by how much of the sport is discussed. Beyond that, however, the authors set out to show that Pujols is more than just the guy we see nightly on SportsCenter from April to October. He is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many athletes appeal to God, but all too often their lives don’t match up with those emotional acclamations of praise to the Creator. Pujols is different. Being led to the Lord by, Deidre, the woman who would become his wife, Pujols approaches the Christian faith like he approaches the game of baseball: all out. From seeking out ways to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with teammates to showing uncustomary concern for injured players (and even fans) to starting a foundation with his wife to express their faith in helping people, particularly those with Down Syndrome and orphans in the DR, Pujols is shown by the authors to be someone who is an authentic Christian.

Much like the Scriptures do not attempt to hide the faults of heroes of the faith like Abraham, Moses, David, or Peter, Ellsworth and Lamb do not attempt to hide the faults of the man nicknamed “The Machine.” Pujols is a sinner saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. At the risk of repeating a cliched bumper sticker, Pujols is not perfect, just forgiven, and that clearly has had ramifications for the way he has lived his life.

Baseball fans rightly lament the fact so many “heroes” of the game have fallen in what has been dubbed “the steroid era.” Pujols has always denied using these drugs and no one has ever brought forth any accusations with any meat on the bones. The authors make a case why we should trust Pujols, with few of their reasons based on the lack of evidence, but most based on how his faith in Jesus Christ is clearly demonstrated in his life.

At the end of the book this reader is thankful that it really seems when Pujols says, “Don’t be afraid to believe in me,” we know that is based on his own personal faith in Christ, and we can believe.

View all my reviews

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