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Photo: Enigma sports

If I had to choose between my wife and my putter... well, I’d miss her.

Gary Player

Character

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come - sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. (Mark 7:21-22)

Jesus’ catalogue of sins which come out of a person’s heart are present in the world of sport as everywhere else. I would argue that the morality of sport is no worse that the morality of business or the factory. Sometimes it is to do with opportunity and the fact that professional sport is so high-profile.

Let’s us reflect on some of these activities and characteristics that Jesus identified.

Sexual immorality, adultery: If you are an active sportsperson with a finely tuned body and especially in professional sport, you may have opportunities and temptations that most people cannot imagine.

Theft: James Naismith, the inventor of basketball said: “Few college men would take money or valuables from another. Yet they are taught in the practices of our sports that it is not dishonourable to take illegal advantage of another, if there is little prospect of being caught”.

Murder: We are unlikely to murder the coach or a team-mate but do we not sometimes engage in character assassination?

Greed: As I write this, a court case is going on where international cricketers risk going to prison. Greed motivated match-fixing.

Deceit: Have you appealed for a decision to try to influence the officials?

Contrast these attitudes with Jesus’ challenge to love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31) and that Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and the servant of all (Mark 9:35). Imagine sport being played in an attitude of love and humility!

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