Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

The Center Court View

February 19, 2019

As our society continues to spiral out of control in how to understand men and women in terms of gender and sexuality, ideological voices seek to codify new definitions and ways of doing things grounded not in reality but rather in wishful thinking.  In no area is this more apparent than the issue of transgenders participating in sports.

Ideologically, it’s attractive to say that men and women are no different physically, and therefore a man who identifies as a woman has no advantage when competing against actual females.  I remember an argument I had with a student of mine in an online college course over a decade ago.  I made some comment in regards to the physical strength differences between men and women and she took issue with this. Women are every bit as strong as men, she insisted.  I acknowledged that certain muscle groups in women might be stronger than equivalent muscle groups in men.  I acknowledged that women who train hard will be stronger than the average man who doesn’t train hard.  But that all other things being equal, men are still the stronger sex.  She wouldn’t have any of it.  To her, equality between men and women extended to physical equality, and no amount of studies or other data would convince her otherwise.

This sort of mindset is driving decisions to ban any sort of discrimination, including sports.  Males who identify as females are competing in female athletics and many are proving – not surprisingly – to be much stronger and faster than their actual female competitors.  I’ve  seen complaints about this in the mixed martial arts world, so it doesn’t surprise me that other actual athletes  – rather than politicians – would be criticizing it as well.

And they’re being criticized for saying out loud what anyone with an ounce of common sense or actual experience in physical contests between men and women could tell you: men are stronger.  A man may psychologically identify as a woman, but his body is still a man’s body despite whatever surgeries or hormone therapies he might undergo.  The irony is that those  who are speaking out against allowing transgender men to compete against actual women include not just conservative people  (like myself), but also people on the opposite end of the ideological and sexual spectrum.  People like Martina  Navratilova, an amazing tennis player who came out as gay almost 40 years ago.

She is being condemned by people who are driven by ideology rather than reality, who hope to reshape the world into what they would like it to be rather than what it actually is.  And in the meantime, actual real people are being hurt and deprived of the honors that are appropriate to them and their gender.

When I was a kid in the height of the Cold War, we used to make jokes about the Olympics and the athletes that came from Soviet bloc countries like East Germany.  We joked because of the stereotype that their athletes were so much bigger and stronger and powerful than many other countries, particularly the women’s teams because they often seemed suspiciously like men.  How surreal that what once was considered cheating is now being supported and legally mandated by some in the misplaced name of a misguided equality.

Goldfish Now NBA Target Market

January 14, 2017

Thanks to Ken for sending this humorous article.  If you don’t believe shrinking attention spans is a problem, perhaps knowing that professional sports organizations are looking to make changes to keep games shorter will be a more compelling argument.

While I’m not sold entirely on the research, it’s not terribly surprising.  Funny how the end of the game is often where the greatest excitement is, so I would think that attention spans would actually be longer and more focused there rather than other parts of the game.  Maybe if half-times were shrunk  or the quarters were shorter it would accomplish the same goal of making the game shorter without eliminating some of the final drama.

Then again, I can count on one hand the number of games I’ve watched from start to finish in the past year of any sporting event.  Do whatever y’all want!

The Fighting Word

September 20, 2014

I have to admit I love watching mixed martial arts (MMA).  I don’t often get to watch it (no TV, no cable), but when I do, it mesmerizes me.  There is something incredibly impressive about the courage, the physical strength and stamina, and the technical precision these men (and women) demonstrate.  It is not always easy to watch, but the thought that two presumably intelligent and mentally capable people agree to enter an enclosed space and battle another person until one of them can’t fight any longer is incredible.

I’ve also been dimly aware that, as with most any other sport or activity, there are Christians who participate in MMA, and some of them are not just public about their faith, but as in-your-face about it as they are their fighting skills.  So it is that I read this review of a recently released movie, Fight Church, with some interest.

The essential question of the article, and I presume the movie, is whether MMA is consistent with the Christian faith.  Are we able to be Christians while we do harm to another person?

This is hardly a new question.  As Christianity emerged from the catacombs and into public and political life, the question of whether a Christian could serve in the military became real.   While Christians have varied greatly in their answer to this question, Augustine is the earliest Christian to weigh in on the subject, drawing not just from Christian theology but also Roman philosophers and historians.  Augustine acknowledges that war is sometimes a necessary evil which Christians may be obligated to engage in.  Over the years, Augustine has been perhaps erroneously understood to have advocated for the acceptance of fighting in a “just war”, but this is a concept that originated with Cicero.

But the majority of Christianity has presumed that it is at least permissible to serve in the military, even though that may obligate one to hurt and kill others.  Many Christians personally if not doctrinally treat such service as God-pleasing.

What the reviewer (and perhaps the movie) fail to take into account are the other ways that the Christian faith might be shared within an MMA context.  Surely, it would be difficult to see such a witness clearly inside the octagon, though I would hope that the Christian fighter could refrain from some of the over-the-top antics hinted at by the reviewer.  But most of a fighter’s time is spent outside the octagon – training, conditioning, working with a variety of people to attain peak physical and mental conditioning for the brief moments of actual fighting.  Within that immense spectrum of time and relationships, surely a dedicated Christian fighter (or trainer – is any attention paid to someone who trains other people for combat?!) could be a powerful witness to those around him (or her).

Are similar questions asked about boxing?  Or is boxing simply more accepted culturally – whether Christian culture or not?  What about football, certainly in light of all the publicity about long-term damage the sport can inflict, it is more than reasonable to ask whether a Christian athlete should pursue a sport where they are not only hurting others, but more than likely hurting themselves as well.

As with most any vocation, I don’t think our faith is witnessed in the details of doing our job.  The Christian garbage collector is virtually indistinguishable from the Muslim garbage collector.  The Christian grocery store clerk is indistinguishable most likely from the Buddhist grocery store clerk.  It is only in moving past the mechanics of our vocation to interact with one another personally that faith witness becomes possible.  Of course, I should hope that the Christian worker does their job diligently, cheerfully, and always goes over and above what is expected.  But I suspect, judging from some of my past performance, that this is not always the case.

So for the MMA fighter who wants to show his or her faith in the octagon, I’m not sure that’s possible unless you happen to win and get to make a statement.  But even then, your vocational performance is mostly over when the bell rings or the announcer declares you the winner.  I don’t know the best answer to the question of whether or not someone can profess to be a Christian while actively seeking to hurt another person.  But I suspect that the answer is yes, and that the greater answer to the question comes in all the other little places other than the actual seconds and minutes of combat.

Like it does for most of the rest of us.