My husband and I had the privilege of joining some friends of ours to see a professional soccer game last week. Before the game even started, we arrived early to take in the new stadium. We walked around the perimeter checking out the seats and the food options and the design features of the stadium. Fans wearing both soccer and football sporting emblems rimmed the mid-level circumference peeling off for bathrooms, food outlets and seating sections.
Soccer play is constant for 45 minutes for each half. Nonetheless the fans flowed up and down the aisles. The cheering and routing of the crowd also qualifies as entertainment. The clock continues while players fall to the ground in either real or faked pain. Most get up and continue playing. The cheers I heard were “Flop, flop; let him die.”
The enthusiasm that people showed for the sport is more than we see at churches for God. Their loyalty to endure the noise and crowds is more than what’s required at a church service. The cost of the food is triple what most people would pay at a restaurant, and no one complained. Stadium prices seemed surreal to me, accustomed to trying to save $.30 here and $.75 cents there on each item at a grocery store. One could buy an entire six pack of American or luxury beer for the price of one stadium beer. One could buy a 12 pack of soft drinks for the price of 1 soft drink at the stadium. And the price for 1 bottled water would buy 24 bottles including all the bottling taxes added on. Further, people waited in long lines to buy food and drink.
The fans express their enthusiasm in loud and excited ways throughout the match, with or without scoring. The excitement levels rippling through the crowd goes beyond almost any excitement levels I see at most churches. When did our love of sports become more visible than our love of God? Isn’t this one of the signs of a crumbling civilization? I love sporting events. But I also love seeing God heal someone of asthma or watching a leg grow out. I love things that glorify God. I wonder how many people think about the God whose name they love to use to describe their frustration with just about everything they don’t like.
Our society publicly loves watching athletes play sports, which celebrates the feats of the human body. I wonder what they enjoy that celebrates feats of the human spirit.