Philosophy of Athletics
The inspired writers of Scripture leave no doubt that athletics were a part of the context in which they lived. References to sport, physical training, and competition suggest that they are not off-limits to followers of Christ. References to boxing, training, wrestling, and running a race confirm that athletics are legitimate in a Christian’s life. Paul acknowledged in I Timothy 4:8 that there is, indeed, profit from bodily exercise. He then reminds believers that bodily exercise, like other areas of life, pales in comparison to godliness. The believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and bodily exercise, properly undertaken, IS an exercise in godliness. Physical conditioning for God’s glory, for health and development as “good soldiers of Jesus Christ,” and not for sensuality or show, is a spiritual exercise.
As the Christian school movement developed in the 20th century, athletic programs became part of most school programs. Those entrusted with the oversight of Christian school athletics have great influence on a highly visible aspect of the ministry. This includes the Christian school administrator, athletic director, and coaching staff. When a school offers intramural or interscholastic athletics participation to its students, it embraces a process that may serve to be a great blessing and useful tool of instruction. Often overlooked and/or neglected, however, are the perils that are ever-present in the realm of athletics. Following are a few of those perils:
“And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (II Timothy 2:5)
We reside in a sports-dominated society. Consider how much our conversation, television viewing, radio listening, and reading are related to sports. October focuses attention upon the World Series. From September through February, professional football dominates Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. Have you heard the expression “March Madness,” a time when collegiate basketball consumes most of America’s attention? Every two years, the whole world watches as elite athletes from many nations compete in summer or winter Olympics. These examples only begin to reveal the influence of sports and athletics on our culture. Over-emphasis is a continual peril to be avoided.