The Netflix show, Thirteen Reasons Why, is suddenly all the rage.
It’s based on a book with the same name, written by Jay Asher, and it’s about a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, who makes thirteen videos which she sends out to select individuals. Each video explains one reason why, based on what that person did to her, she has chosen to end her life.
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Suicide is a heavy topic but certainly relevant for all of us today, because it’s one of the leading causes of death among American teens.
So being mindful of the gravity of this somber subject, I found myself making a parallel connection to our oftentimes troubled sports culture.
With the current negative climate surrounding sports, it might be tempting to bail out, voluntarily choosing to end our relationship with sports.
While this is obviously not on the level of the tragedy of suicide, it would still be tragic, if we chose to stop playing sports because of what some misguided people have done to tarnish our games.
In spite of our cultural moment and what we’ve allowed sports to become, there are still many uplifting reasons why we should continue to play.
Here are my Thirteen Reasons Why we should play sports.
To Be Challenged
Through sports, we are constantly pushed beyond our physical, emotional, and mental abilities, and we push ourselves further than we thought we could go. Sports make us do what we can’t!
To Be Humbled
Through sports, we learn that boasting is short lived because someone is always, bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled than us. The longer we play, the more likely we are to be humbled, because failure is a given. It’s not if, but when.
To Love Others
Through sports, we are thrown into a community of competitive strangers, called teammates. Then we are forced to strive for the good of those competitors, sacrificially laying down our own individual agendas for our team and coach. We are loving our neighbor as ourself.
To Be Courageous
Through sports, we are put in stressful situations where we need to be strong and courageous like Joshua from the Old Testament. And like Joshua, we have the opportunity to lead by example and show others how to run toward the giants.
To Taste Glory
Through sports, when we achieve a monumental win, we capture a glimpse of our heavenly, glory. Overcoming, enduring, and rising up in sport, gives us a sweet taste of what divine victory must be like. Pure joy!
To Remain Unshaken
Through sports we enter into a time of shaking where everything we know about ourselves gets tested. In many ways, our metal as men and women is refined by fire. As athletes, we endure physical exhaustion, blood, sweat, and in many cases tears. But, we come through the shakedown, confident and steady.
To Face Adversity
Through sports, we willing face adversity. We lose by twenty, fumble the ball, miss the tackle, miss the basket, and miss the grounder. We get yelled at, pulled from the game, put on the line, and knocked down. But, we also score the touchdown, swish the three, hit the homer, sink the birdie, smash the overhead, and cross the finish line first. Adversity breeds success!
To Accelerate Our Growth
Through sports, we can speed up our spiritual growth because we must face constant obstacles. We learn to cooperate with difficult people, take orders from authority, hold our tongue with referees, redirect our anger, and harness the energy in our bodies. We grow upward.
To Experience Unity
Through sports, we feel the beauty of true unity. We bond with our teammates, forming close-knit friendships that last a lifetime. Our team feels like family.
To Embrace Diversity
Through sports, we get up close to cultural divides. But our common enemy, the other team, drives us to overcome our differences, allowing us to expand our world vision, opening our minds. We become color blind.
To Harness Strength
Through sports, we are able to restrain our power for the good of others. And we master our muscles and our minds. Now I know that I can buffet my body, and I will.
To Be an Overcomer
Through sports, we get to practice being overcomers. And like the seven churches in revelation, the eternal reward always goes to those who overcome. The reward may not be numbers on the scoreboard, but to hear the words, “Well done” from my earthly coach and ultimately my heavenly savior, make my struggle worthwhile.
To Grow Self-discipline
Through sports, I run, lift, throw, squat, kick, block, tackle, dribble, punt, sprint, climb, hit, slide, skip, jump, and then I sleep. When I wake up, I do it all over again. Why? Because I’m given self-discipline by the Spirit which lives in me.
To Get Acquainted with Suffering
Through sports, we see that pain and suffering have purpose. No one likes to do wind sprints at the end of practice, but afterward, the benefits become obvious when the game is on the line, and our conditioning is the difference. Suffering will always be redeemed, on and off the field of play.
Christian, there is no doubt that sports exposes the entire gamut of our humanness! But we should relish the exposure and learn from the varied and robust lessons that playing sports gives us.
When done with thoughtful intention, sports can add tremendous value to our lives and can lead us to a better understanding of our purpose as Christian athletes and coaches. There’s hundreds of other reasons why we play.
What’s yours? #whyIplaysports!