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Saturday, February 07, 2004

Jesus Doesn't Care About Your Basketball Game

Yesterday, I went to a basketball game at school, and sadly, the visiting team was triumphant. The coach was ecstatic, and equated their victory with divine providence. The team took a knee in prayer following the final buzzer to thank the lord for their success. All of this took place following an atrocious display of poor coaching. Despite their win, many of the girls on his team seemed demoralized and stressed because the only tools in his coaching arsenal seemed to be shouting, criticizing, and complaining about the quality of the refereeing. I felt sorry for his team.

I wanted to buy him a bracelet that said, "H.W.J.C": How Would Jesus Coach?

Some people believe in the separation of church and state; I believe in the separation of church and sports metaphor.

Throughout my youth, I listened to many strained God-sports metaphors from the pulpit of the Lutheran church, each one more banal than the next. I've heard "Onward Christian Soldiers" linked to Vikings games, the Crucifiction compared to a crushing Superbowl loss, and resurrection likened to the '87 Twins cinderella season.

I've had enough. God isn't my cosmic coach drawing up the plans; my deity is not my teammate, foam-fingered fan, or quarterback.

Sure, when you look at artist's conceptions of Jesus, he's a wiry, athletic looking guy that seems to be a head taller than his companions--that doesn't necessarily mean he can play hoops. Sure, he's infallable, so I guess he wouldn't miss too many free throws, but his "turn the other cheek' philosophy might mean his defense would be soft--although I hear he's good on the boards. Would Jesus Christ, Sportsman be competitive enough to win the championship? I doubt it...If Jesus were actually on my sports team, I think I'd most appreciate his miraculous talents as a waterboy.

Don't get me wrong...I love sports as entertainment, and with the right coaching, positive life lessons can be learned through students participating in them. Some coaches, however, seem to equate them with divinely-inspired paramilitaries equipping kids for a life of slavish, unquestioning loyalty to an authority figure.

I don't think that's what God wants from us...She's got other priorities. Games are for kids, not deities.

If you want God in sports, you'll have to settle for the next best thing: Kevin Garnett.

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