Why Do People Play Sports

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Dr. Thamsing LamkangNagaland Sports Coalition   In today’s fast changing world we can’t deny sports as the ‘Universal Language’, because nothing contributes like sports can do to humanity. Some people may not easily agree to my opinion, but as a matter of fact ‘it is and it does’. The statistic shows more than eighty percent of the world population plays sport.
And not to forget the spiritual harvest sports have contributed towards the church mission, particularly for ‘Discipleship and Evangelism’ to reach the unreach people for Christ. Moreover, young people involved more in sports than in any other generation. Well, “Sports & Music” has become a ‘Global Youth Culture’ that has brought so many holistic changes in churches and communities. It is very important to understand the basic values of sports so that sports can be benefited better more in future. And it is mandatory for youths to understand the basic sports values; to discover their identity in Christ first. So, we must create an opportunity for youngsters to unearth their hidden talents through sports.
It is important to understand the motivation behind why people participate in sports activities? They may play for two reasons whether a serious play or for recreation. But whatsoever, it is to know and understand the players better for playing. People play sports for multiple reasons. It has been said that eight out of ten people play sports to have a healthy self-image. Some simply play for the love of competition. Many play to find a purpose in life. Others play to release stress, lose weight or improve their general health, to make friends, or to enjoy social recreation and entertainment. All of these represent healthy, positive attitudes toward sport.
If people play sports for these positive reasons, there is a positive return from sport. Conversely, if people play for negative motivations, then there is negative return from sport. The negative aspects of sport come directly from hearts of the people who play. One such example would be those people who are motivated to hurt or to impose power over others, thus damaging themselves, their opponents, the spectators and the sport itself. The converse is true too, the positive aspects of sport stem out of the hearts and motivation of the people of sport who plays for any reasons.
Even if a sportsperson is playing sports to gain a healthy self-image, often times he feels he must win or beat the opponent to feel good about him self. If his opponent is more skilled then what can he do to win? This ‘Positive’ aspect of sport can quickly turn into a ‘Negative’ one. In fact, most negative aspects in sport come from unhealthy self-images. For when a person’s identity is tied up in winning, he will do whatever it takes to protect his identity and win. Winning at all costs has stemmed from the need to have a positive self-image. Cheating, lying, making excuses, unnecessary rough play, blaming officials, violence, eating disorders, and drug enhancements are all means he may take to ensure a win.
A sportsperson who is a believer should know exactly where his self-image comes from. His identity is found in Christ alone. He can compete with the complete freedom to knowing that his identity is not based on his performance. The Latin word ‘competere’ of the word ‘compete’ means to ‘come together to agree. Thus ‘competition’, in the best sense, is two opponents coming together to agree for the purpose of bringing the best out of each other, not the worst.
The believer can play his best with the intent to win while viewing his opponents as a challenge to improve his ability and skill. He does not view his opponents as the enemy, but as one who can bring out his best in all areas; physically through skills and fitness level; socially through his relationships with the teammates, opponents and coaches; mentally through strategy and plays, spiritually through motivation and actions; and emotionally through self-control.
He does not have to compete to defeat the opponents in order to feel good about himself; instead, he competes because of who he is. Thus, as believers in the world of sport, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our identity in Christ to people who are searching for healthy identity. ‘Sport is a strategic place and role the Christian competitor has as an agent of redemption in the world of sport!’
JOAO LEITE was one of the founders of the group “Athletes of Christ” in Brazil. He became famous in his country for wearing a small slogan on his jumper whenever he plays a match. This inscription said, ‘Jesus Saves’. Soon, the journalist asked Joao the reason for this, because at that time he was the best goal-keeper in all of Brazil. Joao made the most of that moment to explain what God had done in his life. Many began to say it was illegal to wear any slogans. The Federation Cup officials had the meeting to decide that Joao shouldn’t wear anything on his playing jumper.
On the first day of the prohibition, the journalist asked Joao ‘what do you think about the fact you can’t wear the inscription Jesus Saves? Joao answered; ‘They can take Christ off my jumper, but nobody can take Him out of my heart.’
I am giving so much of time and energy to bring out the best out of sports. We have been playing sports for very long time but we really didn’t know and understands the sports values, and what sports can contribute for the people. I am giving more research on sports not because sports matter much to me, but what sports can do more for the Gospel. So what I believed and convinced about sports is that it is very helpful, most important and much resourceful, because it lends to the gospel works.
Many traditional churches or church leaders are not willing to go out to reach, rather then doing discipleship only on the pulpit. We should always remember that only Good people and believers will come to church, but what about those non-Christians, addicted and non-church goers. They will never come to church unless you go and reach them. What does your church believing about the mission, only for people coming regularly to church, or go out for the sake of one precious soul’s? Jesus left the 99s, and went to search the one lost sheep, and we are to follow that mission concept.
Let me point you a pro-soccer team playing for Christ. There are such many teams ‘the best team of all time’ though but I chose to share about them. There’s a remarkable soccer team called Charlotte Eagles, hails from Charlotte in America, and it is like no other. They have so many success stories, in no time they moved up a success ladder, and never out for glory and trophies. But that’s not the most remarkable thing about the Eagles. What is truly astounding is that these Eagles are in business to be witnesses for Jesus Christ through sports. They play to make known Christ to others, because sports are so important and valuable for the sake of the Gospel!(This article is extracted from the book “BORN TO PLAY TO WIN”)

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