Ah, but if San Diego doesn’t build a new stadium the Chargers are certain to leave and it is highly likely we will never get another NFL franchise, at least not in my lifetime. If they leave I’m going to be really upset. My favorite new team will be whoever the Los Angeles Chargers happen to be playing. All I will have left to do is root for the Chargers…to lose. Take that, Alex Spanos.
This could be due to some deficiency in me. It could be that I need to grow up and care about things that actually matter rather than trivial things like games that in the end, really don’t mean anything. Perhaps this fascination with the Chargers is nothing more than an example of the insatiable human appetite for diversion and entertainment. But I also wonder if this odd passion of mine doesn’t tell us something about the human heart. But if so, what does it tell us?
There are several reasons why people tend to be so avid about sports. The first is that sports do provide an escape from the fact that life is hard. There are many difficult things about life, not least of which is that much of it tends to be a routine grind and sports provides a relief from the harshness of it. That is, unless you root for teams from San Diego, in which case your diversion usually just provides you with more disappointment and discouragement. A second reason we love sports is that it provides a point of connection and bonding with other people. Allen McConnell, a psychology prof at the University of Miami says, “Humans have a strong need to feel connected, to be part of something greater, to be more than just an individual out on an island.” Third, sports provides a sense of drama and glory that our lives usually lack. Ronald Levant, professor of psychology at the University of Akron says, “Identifying with your sports team is one of the ways you can vicariously experience success, and in real life, success is hard.”
Yes, sports can be an escape, a diversion from the real issues and the real meaning of life. But they also tell us something about ourselves. They actually can point us back to the truth. Life is hard. Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Paul said we “groan inwardly as we wait for our adoption to sonship” (Romans 8:23). The good news is that there is hope. The hope isn’t that we can escape for a brief time by watching a football game, but that someday we will experience life in God’s kingdom, a life of unrestrained joy and peace. Sports remind us that we do, indeed, long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. They remind us that we need the connection of the body of Christ. This is what we really long for, to be deeply connected to others with whom we are serving the greatest cause in all creation, the kingdom of God. And finally sports remind us that we do long for glory, but the real glory is that which we will experience when we are welcomed into God’s presence. Any earthly success and glory is but the palest shadow of that reality. So, yes, I have a sports addiction, but even that weakness, if that’s what we label it, tells us much about ourselves as humans and points us in the direction of the gospel of Christ. It is there that our deepest longings are really met.