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Thanking God in Sports

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Aldeth the Foppish Idiot, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Ugh, this never ceases to amaze me. An athlete has a good performance in a game, and when asked by a reporter how he did it following the game, he always gives thanks to God, and said it was God's will.

    The latest example of this is Curt Schilling, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He again gave thanks to God, and said that God had given him the power to pitch a game like that. He said the same thing following his previous start as well. In his press conference following his victory over the Yankees last week he said that this (his performance in the game) was God's work. He said the previous time he had pitched he tried to do it on his own, and everyone saw the results (he played very poorly). That since becoming a Christian several years ago, that he now understands the power God gives him.

    Why do athletes do this? And perhaps the better question is what the heck does he mean that God wasn't with him in the game when he played poorly? Why was he by himself that game? Did he forget to stuff Jesus in his duffle bag on the way to the stadium?

    For the sake of arguement, let's say that there is a God. Furthermore, let's say that this being we call God is omnipresent and omnipotent. As a result, God can take an interest in even the most trivial of all human activities, including but not limited to sporting events. However, just about every team has a team chaplin, and just about every team says a prayer before the game. Does this suggest that it is possible to out-pray your opponent? That even though both sides pray to God before a game, that God decides which team will win and which team will lose? Does this imply that God is a sports fan? The Red Sox beat the Yankees this year in the playoffs, but lost to the Yankees last year in the playoffs. Did God switch which team was his favorite in the past 12 months? Did the Red Sox do a better job of praying in the past 12 months?

    And then players even thank God during the game. This completely blows my mind. A quarterback throws a touchdown pass and points skyward. A batter hits a home run and points towards the heavens as he crosses home plate. Why? Do these people actually think they were touched by the hand of God at that moment? That by divine decree it was preordained that they would win the game - that they would hit the game winning home run - or throw the Super Bowl winning touchdown pass?

    To me, it makes no sense. If God gave you the power to perform at that level, then it should also be God that makes you screw up. If you point to the sky after catching a touchdown pass, then I feel you should also point skyward when you drop that touchdown pass. "It's not my fault I didn't catch it - God didn't want me to." Or, if you really think God only does good things, point down at the ground and shout, "The Devil made me drop it!"

    The only reason that I can think of that athletes do this is that A.) They are too dumb to accept the fact that maybe they just won because they played better - or perhaps that they are more talented than the other team. B.) That paying respect to God is a type of faux-modesty that makes athletes more appealing to fans. Or C.) By saying they played well because of God it makes them seem more like regular people, and thus again, as an appeal to the fans.

    Your thoughts?

    [ October 25, 2004, 20:19: Message edited by: Aldeth the Foppish Idiot ]
     
  2. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    For a believer, it's always good to thank God if things go well in life, or for a particular success. Frankly, I don't consider myself to be in any position to judge those people, but it feels a bit much to me, to claim it was God's will when you prevail over other people in some competition. In some metaphysical sense, a thesis that whatever happens is within the scope of God's will because if it weren't then God would have blocked it can be defended somehow, but hey, things that have happened include both World Wars and the appearance of hip-hop music.
     
  3. Pac man Gems: 25/31
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    First of all, there WAS a god in sports. He played basketball with the Chicago Bulls, and had number 23 on his jersey, but he's retired now, even gods grow tired. :D

    But i see your point though,a lot of footballplayers make that little cross before a match or after scoring a goal. I guess it's all between their ears, if they truly believe that that's what makes them play better, then let em, who cares ? Funny though that some people who thanked god in the past for their victories, in reality should be thanking the doctor that gave him/her the prescription of the illegal accomplishmentenhancing drugs they have been taking all those years. A real Christian would consider that blasphemy.

    But some point to the sky because they feel that his/her passed away father/mother is watching from above, like i said...whatever makes them feel good about their performance.

    Live and let live. ;)

    [ October 25, 2004, 16:47: Message edited by: Pac man ]
     
  4. Faraaz Gems: 26/31
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    Aye...I'm with Pac Man on this. Loads of cricket players do that as well...especially when they complete centuries. They do that because they feel that any dropped catches/missed throws or runouts/dismissals on no-balls etc all have contributed to them reaching a century...which in turn, was due to luck => God.

    But...as Pac Man said, Live and Let Live, eh?
     
  5. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    The problem I have is that most athletes pray, yet by definition in any competetion only one of them wins. Since sometimes your team wins, and sometimes your team loses, it seems strange to me that the outcome is influenced by God, unless God is very fickle in his blessings. The fact that no team loses all the time, and no team wins all the time, makes belief in God determining the outcome of a sporting event incompatable.

    @Chev

    :lol:

    EDIT: I don't have a problem if you point to heaven because you think a loved one is looking down on you. What I do have a problem with is someone like Schilling who says God is with him some days, and not others. Why? If he is a "good Christian" like he claims, why would God only be with him on certain days?

    Plus, good performance probably lies in self-accomplishment, personal motivation and (most likely) free will to chose this for oneself. I don't point skyward whenever I finish a report at work!

    [ October 25, 2004, 16:55: Message edited by: Aldeth the Foppish Idiot ]
     
  6. BOC

    BOC Let the wild run free Veteran

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    During the celebration for our victory in last european football championship the archbishop of Greece said to the greek footballers that they managed to win the tournament because they are orthodox christians. When I heard him saying this two thoughts crossed my mind. "Otto Rehhagel (the german coach of the greek team)isn't an orthodox. Why did god favor this infidel?" and "does this mean that our players were not orthodox christians in the previous tournaments, when we didn't even manage to qualify?"
     
  7. Pac man Gems: 25/31
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    Aldeth, perhaps that's exactly what you need to start doing at work, you'll never know...god might decide to give you a raise. :D
     
  8. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Well, guys. It's like with any victory. I guess I don't need to remind anyone that the history of Europe is full of blood and gore and the battling kingdoms were all Christian. Wars raged not only between different denominations, but Catholics fought Catholics, Protestants fought Protestants, Orthodox fought Orthodox - often arm in arm with allies of a different denomination than the two basic combatants. Each side prayed and only one could win. One claimed God's grace and victory, the other claimed God's grace and martyrdom. That's how it works, I guess. Still, so far as we believe in there being a God that interacts with the world after creating it, we can't exclude intervention. Therefore the seemingly only logical solution - that it was all of human doing from the beginning to the end - may be dubious for a serious believer so much as the first one (i.e. God granting victory to one party) is. Conclusion: do your job as best you can, pray hard, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
     
  9. Iago Gems: 24/31
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    Well, I have no problem with contagious magic. If a player makes the sign of the cross to call upon god or a patron saint to protect the player from broken bones or life long paralysation, that's fine with me.

    Then, when I was little.... I was given lectures on how to behave in religious class in form of very simple childlike and easy to memorize stories with a message. One message was, don't bother god all the time with your aching toe, your aching tooth, the meal you wish instead the one on the table etc. I allow myself without any further profound theological reasoning, which I am not capable of anyway, to extend that principle on sports. Don't bother god with your tiny little problems, like winning the world championship in football. Really! It's not becoming for a "good" christian.

    Then further, claiming to be somehow the tool of god's will isn't exactly humility, I think the more accurate description is pride. If someones thinks his merely one of the means through which god has chosen to do his will, this person is suffering from a seriously overstretched ego.

    Besides, I think the most famous evocation of god in sports was through Maradona, claiming that it wasn't a foul, but the hand of god. Strictly adhering to the old saying:" help yourself, this way you can convince god to help you too", or whatever the equivalent in English is.

    And nearly forgot, the correct deity for the outcome of games is Fortuna, goddess of luck and prosperity. Schilling is propably worshipping her (knowingly or not)

    Edit: Ok, I shouldn't do that, but...

    And we know, that god always sides with the strongest battallion.
     
  10. Kam Gems: 15/31
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    I don't see any problem with athaletes thanking God for a good performance.
    However, I really do wonder how many do it because they truly want to thank God for a touchdown, or a home run or whatever.
    I hate to say it, but I've got a feeling that most of them do it for Aldeth's last two reasons.
     
  11. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    The English equivalent would be "God helps those who help themselves."

    Agreed. That's the point I was trying to make when I used the term faux-modesty.
     
  12. Abomination Gems: 26/31
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    I remember a story about a particular middle eastern soccer (football - whatever) team (I couldn't remember the name for the life of me) but they didn't train much. They had an "Allah wills" attitude which pretty much means "If we lose, we only lost because Allah willed it and we will not complain or question him" and "If we win, we only won because Allah willed it and we will not complain or question him". The coach had nightmares because he simply couldn't convince his team to improve on past mistakes or reflect on past successes. They would never thank Allah if they won either. Seems to me there was no real point in playing. They might as well have been human chess pieces.

    As for thanking God during games after a certain event, you must realise that these are usually moments of glory. "Thank you, God, for this moment of glory - for putting me where I am today and blessing me with my physical attributes and determination/force of will to train myself to gain the maximum benefits of said attributes." At least thats what I 'hope' they're thanking God for. Still, I don't see them falling to their knees and thanking God when they sign a million dollar contract "Thank you Lord for creating this noble/ignorant person who has just provided me with yet another million dollar house."

    Supposing there is a God the athletes would be covering their bases. They don't want to suddenly lose success because God realises that they don't worship him enough... but if they did think that then God would know and he would not bless them with success... the mind boggles :confused:
     
  13. NonSequitur Gems: 19/31
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    I always hear: "Well, first of all, I'd like to thank God..."

    What I'm puzzled by is why you never hear Christian athletes say this: "Jesus made me drop the ball."

    Sure, thank God for all your blessings, by all means. I don't think God (if there is one) is sitting back and maneuvering everything like a chess board, hand hovering over a big red button labelled "Smite". I think people invoke the Lord's name to suggest their moral suitability and appropriateness for the victory and to be heralded as "deserving heroes" whose strength is more than physical. In the end, they wouldn't have been there if they weren't already exceptionally good. Maybe God cut them some slack, or they got a bit of good fortune, but I'd hardly call it divine sporting intervention.

    Maybe the next big controversy in athletics will be the invention of "God testing", where the winners of any event will be soul-tested for any traces of heavenly (or infernal) intervention...
     
  14. Cernak Gems: 12/31
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    If God loves sports, why have the New Orleans SAINTS never been succesful? The name says it all; God is obviously Protestant. I can't help but admire Earl Weaver, the great manager of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. When one of his players, a born-again Christian, said to him, "Earl, you've got to walk with the Lord."; Earl replied, "I'd rather walk with the bases loaded."
     
  15. Lokken Gems: 26/31
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    If Earl walks with the bases loaded, he helps himself, and thus the Lord shall aid him. ^_^

    He's not diluding himself with the will of God aiding him to win, and thus I'd have more faith in Earl than the player.
     
  16. Cernak Gems: 12/31
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    Lukkan, I think you've been reading Kierkegaard.
     
  17. CĂșchulainn Gems: 28/31
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    I find it interesting that they can thank God for their victory (which provides large amounts of wealth and fame) but the bible says 'it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven'. and 'To sell your worldly possessions and give to the poor'.
     
  18. Apeman Gems: 25/31
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    Like Pac Man said in the beginning of the thread, there are many soccer players here in holland making a cross before entering the field or when scoring a goal. Frankly I have absolutely no problem with that, of course I roll my eyes every time I see it but that's not the point.

    But as aldeth said they mostly give thanks when there is a victorious moment. Very few ( I know a handful) do it when they miss or completely fail. Now why would anyone praise god for their victories but not when they lose, or even curse him when failed. It's not like anyone flicks him the finger when he misses a penalty.

    If I would genuinly believe in god, such as that guy in the first post does, I would be majorly pissed at him for not being there. Why would god bless me with talent and not be there *all* the time, the bastard.

    I'm afraid I'm a bit biased as a non believer as is chev is biased as a believer but I think that the more you believe in god the less you believe in yourself. In my eyes it's a weakness.
     
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