While driving through a town of my boyhood a couple of years ago, I was amazed to see athletic field after field packed with spectators and youthful players…at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning! As a wrestling coach at Orestimba High School a few years ago, I immediately became impressed with the CIF, the governing agency for high school athletics in California. No high school is allowed to participate in any athletic event on Sunday. This became evident on two specific occasions.
One was a Saturday tournament at Pitman High School in Turlock. More teams showed up for the tournament than were expected and the wrestlers persevered into the late night hours. At 12 midnight, the referee’s whistle blew and all wrestling stopped, even if a winner had not been determined.
The other occasion was a district tournament in Angels Camp. The tournament went longer than expected. The championship rounds in some weight classes had not been reached by Saturday night. Those who qualified had to return on Monday to complete the tournament.
Times have changed! As I see stadiums across the country packed with fans, come rain, shine, even snow, I have often wondered what would happen if people were as intense about church as they are about sports.
Years ago, there was an article in Moody Monthly that listed 12 excuses a person might use for “quitting sports.” The analogy shouldn’t be hard to figure out:
• Every time I went, they asked me for money.
• The people sitting next to me weren’t very friendly.
• The seats were too hard and uncomfortable.
• The coach never came to see me.
• The referee made a call with which I couldn’t agree.
• I was sitting with some hypocrites – they were only there to see what other people were wearing.
• Some games went into overtime and I was late getting home.
• The band played numbers I had never heard before.
• The games are scheduled when I want to do other things.
• My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
• Since I read a book on sports, I feel that I know more than the coaches anyway.
• I don’t want to take my children, because I want them to choose for themselves what sport they like best.
The Paul Johnson is pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.