For The Love Of The Game

September is my favorite time of year. Not only is it cooling off a little and nature is starting to turn colors, but baseball season and football season overlap. There's so much sports action that you can get swept away for hours watching your favorite teams and players.

I grew up in a Yankee-loving home. When I saw the Dream Team win the basketball gold medal in the 1992 Olympics, I knew I wanted to do something sports related. I have fibromyalgia so playing was out of the question, but journalism was the perfect place for me.

Since then I've written about sports for newspapers, I've called games on the radio and I've worked in sports information at two colleges. Sports allowed me to combine my love of writing and my enjoyment of competition. Safely. Without spraining anything.

So fall comes along and I can get a healthy dose of games. There's the Braves in a heated battle to win their division. There's the Alabama football team defending their national championship. It's exciting, it's fun and it's time set aside to be with my husband.

Do I agree with all of the attitudes and advertising in sports? No, I don't. Do I agree with giving all young athletes trophies and ribbons so everyone feels like a winner? No, I don't. What I do enjoy about sports is setting a standard and expecting your team to reach it. Yes, there is disappointment when you watch and when you play, but that's part of the game. There will always be winners, losers, terrible efforts and tremendous performances.

The danger in sports is when the Christian allows the game to take over everything. I've seen sports become more important than family, than friends, than God Himself. When a game becomes an idol rather than a pastime, it's beyond time for a heart-attitude check up.

It is fine to enjoy sports, to be knowledgeable about sports or to support certain teams. The problem is that there are people who can rattle off statistics, but can't name the books of the New Testament.We get out of balance when more of our time is spent watching or playing sports (or some other activity), but we don't spend more than a few minutes a day in prayer or in Bible study. Our priorities in life should be glorifying and honoring to Him.

But if I'm balanced, honoring God with my time and not neglecting my service to Him, there are many opportunities to relax. Enjoying sports is a fabulous entertainment outlet, in moderation. I'm looking forward to a few more weeks of baseball and watching my Tide roll over the competition. For the love of the game...

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