It happened again. “My team” lost the big game, and as a fan I felt like I was sliding into a prolonged, painful malaise. The mix of anger and frustration and sadness and disappointment was nothing new. After all, I’m a Cowboys fan.
After “we” lost the game, I asked myself a question that I’ve asked myself before: Why do I care so much about sports? Why do I feel like “we” lost the game instead of “they” lost the game? Why are my emotions affected when a team of grown men, none of whom I know personally, fail to score more points than another team of grown men, none of whom I know personally? Why does “my team” losing upset me so much?
To be clear, I’m NOT wondering about sports I participate in because I understand the personal enjoyment that comes from athletic competition.
I’m also NOT talking about sports my kids participate in because I know the joy that comes from watching your kids succeed in any endeavor.
I’m NOT even talking about why I enjoy watching collegiate and professional sports because I know the entertainment value of sports.
I am asking this question: Why do I care so much about sports? Why does the athletic performance of a bunch of strangers strongly affect my mood and my emotions? After a week of reflection, here are five thoughts from a grieving Cowboys fan.
- I give time to “my teams.” I gladly adjust my schedule to make time for sports, even if I have to record the game and sacrifice sleep to watch it late at night.
- I invest money in “my teams.” I spend money on a cable package that gives me the opportunity to watch my teams, and I buy gear to affiliate with my teams.
- I study “my teams.” I don’t personally know any of these athletes, but I do know a lot about them. I know numbers, stats, hometowns, and other useless info.
- I talk about “my teams.” I’m not ashamed to tell people that I pull for the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers, and the Kansas Jayhawks. I’m a proud, vocal fan.
- I am committed to “my teams.” A disappointing loss or a bad season will not change the fact that I am unconditionally committed to root for my teams.
I think these are a few reasons I end up caring so much about sports. Thinking these thoughts out-loud is not meant to discourage or disparage those who care about sports. I’m not trying to manufacture a guilt trip or encourage you to cancel your Direct TV sports package. However, I do think these realities have spiritual application.
I believe these five actions, when applied to a local church, will inevitably produce a strong emotional connection not unlike that felt by “die-hard fans.” Some of you don’t feel genuinely “connected” to your church, and as a result your faith feels dry. But maybe you need to give more time. Maybe you need to contribute more money. Maybe you need to engage in serious study of God’s Word. Maybe you need to be more vocal about your faith and your church (in a positive way, not a negative way). Maybe you need to commit to being part of the body of Christ. I believe people who consistently do these things will find themselves feeling differently about their church and their faith. I’m not advocating a works based system of Christianity, but I do believe our emotions often follow our actions.
If you’re a sports fan, I’d love to hear your wisdom on this issue. Why do you care so much about sports, and what is the spiritual application for the believer?
Originally published January 20, 2017 on landoncoleman.com.