From the Pastor
Imagine you work at a bank or as a nurse – and you post on your private webpage some Bible verses that included a judgement of sin. Would it be appropriate that you risk being fired because of your views? Imagine if you discovered your mechanic got drunk on the weekend and he posted photos of it online. Would you stop having your car serviced at his garage? I wouldn’t.
So why is Israel Falou in so much trouble? He lost his job – and even his profession? Hold that thought.
A couple of weeks ago Liverpool defeated Barcelona in the European Champions soccer league. Afterwards, the crowd and the players, arm in arm, sang a rousing rendition of Liverpool’s club song – ‘You’ll never walk alone’. Google it – it’s very moving!
Sport in general, not just AFL in Melbourne – is public religion. Belonging to a sporting club gives one the sense that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. Shows like the ‘Footy Show’ (now cut, PTL!) perpetuate this myth.
What does this mean for our sporting stars? They are now thrust into the public domain as role models. They are meant to be the heroes we look up to. One series of TV adds show our children imagining they might grow up and become like them.
The truth is most sporting stars are far from suited for this high calling. Being good at kicking a ball, running and tackling, has little to do with being virtuous, with contemplation, and then living the good life.
Asking our sporting stars to be model citizens, or even exemplar insightful Christians, is to overestimate the function of sport as religion. Likewise to expect that our sporting codes are the new arbitrators of morality, and their task is to signal virtue to the wider community, is well beyond their mandate (and evidently, their ability!) Sport is a game, nothing more.