Holy cliches, Batman!
If you are any sort of sports fan, by now you’ve heard dozens of athletes, upon finishing a game, offer up all their success to “our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” And if you’re like me, you’re getting a little tired of it.
It’s not that I have anything against Jesus. By most accounts in the one book that describes his deeds, he was a pretty good guy. He saved folks, gave them bread and wine, redeemed their souls, and he was into fishing and carpentry. I admire all those traits.
But Jesus didn’t help you throw a touchdown pass, even if it was in a big game. Jesus probably has more important things to do. You know who did throw that touchdown pass? You.
Just once I want to hear the following from an athlete during a postgame interview: “Yeah, I’d just like to thank me for putting in years of training and practice and never losing sight of my dream. And I want to praise me for helping me stay cool when the pocket collapsed and for allowing me to find my teammate in the back of the end zone. I made this all possible.”
Actually, reading it now makes me realize that it sounds kind of obnoxious, but it’s really no worse than hearing some Christian athlete waste his air time spewing out his beliefs, is it? Look, we’re happy that you have found some sort of peace through Christ, but you don’t have to tell us about it every time a microphone is thrust in your face.
Furthermore, don’t try to preach to us when you are given a public forum via a sporting event. This will only hinder your cause. The fan who holds up the sign that reads “John 3:16” can do so as often as he wants, as far as I care. I don’t know what he’s talking about, but I’m sure it’s every bit as valid as “Marry me, Derek Jeter.” That’s fine.
But when I heard that during the introductions at an All-Star Game, Gary Gaetti, a third baseman for the Minnesota Twins, wrote “Jesus is Lord” on his batting glove and stuck his hand out at the camera, my reaction wasn’t: “Wow, is he really? I’m glad you told me.” It was: “What an asshole.”
It’s interesting to me that Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a former NBA player who was born Chris Jackson but converted to Islam, took a lot of grief about his newfound belief in Allah, but a born-again Christian like Gaetti – who stumbled across Jesus late in life when he decided he was an alcoholic – was lauded for his conversion.
It’s interesting, but it’s not right. I don’t care to hear Abdul-Rauf tell me that Allah is the light any more than I care what a former drunk thinks about the subject. Basically, I kind of wish all athletes would just shut up about their religious views and maybe give themselves a little credit once in a while.
All athletes except one, that is.
The lone exception to the rule would be St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, an outspoken Christian who has ridden the Jesus wagon all the way to the Super Bowl in two of the last three seasons.
Capitalizing on his success, Warner has spoken to children all over the country about the benefits of Christ and how Jesus enabled him to go from stocking groceries to winning MVP awards in just a few short years.
This season, however, Warner has been hampered by injuries and has played abysmally, and the Rams are all but eliminated from postseason contention already. In his seven games as a starter St. Louis is winless, and Warner has thrown more interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns than he has touchdowns. Adding insult to injury, third-string backup Marc Bulger has steered the team to a 5-0 record while subbing for Warner.
Through this whole trying time, Warner has gamely shouldered the blame and accepted responsibility for the Rams’ lost season, but that’s not good enough. Because if Warner was only partly responsible for his success the last three seasons, then it stands to reason that this wasted campaign isn’t entirely his fault.
So let me amend what I said before. Just once, I want to hear an athlete, particularly Kurt Warner, say something along these lines: “Jesus really let me down out there, and I think you can blame him for a few of those interceptions I threw.”
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