But, somehow, I got hooked on sports.
A few weeks ago, I watched Serena Williams claim her third US Open and her seventeenth major championship, placing her one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on the all-time list. Rafael Nadal triumphed with the same grit, determination and shear strength that has brought him 13 Grand Slam titles.
I enjoyed watching the 20-year-old rookie from Dallas, Jordan Spieth, who won the John Deere Classic and shot 64 in the final round of the Tour Championship last week to finish second. But my favorite golf event of the year was played in Scotland where Phil Mickelson come from nowhere to claim "The Open" title. I understood his caddy’s emotions when he wept as the final putt rattled into the cup.
What is it that attracts us to sports? Why are we willing to pay so much to watch the talented and gifted athletes compete?
For me, it is the drama, the human stories, the display of excellence, talent, discipline, perseverance and character. I am inspired by athletes who overcome setbacks, slumps and discouragements. We all face these challenges.
The Bible uses athletic metaphors to speak about the life of faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
In the Academy Award winning movie, Chariots of Fire, the gifted Olympic runner Harold Abrams is sitting in an empty stadium with his fiancé after losing for the first time to Eric Liddell. His fiancé is attempting to comfort him when he suddenly snaps at her, “You don’t understand. If I can’t win, I won’t run!” Momentarily taken aback, she responds with that unique wisdom women seem to have, “Well,” she says, “if you don’t run, you can’t win.”
This is what the apostle Paul is getting at when he says, “Do you not know that they who run in a race all run?” We all have a race to run. We all have challenges to face. We all need discipline, perseverance, character and faith so that we might “run to win.”