RetroPost: How Do You Respond When Your Team Loses?

In RetroPost, we feature a post from at least one year ago (ancient in pop culture time). The posts are featured because they have some relevance to current happenings, because they are timeless in nature and speak to a relevant issue, or because we plan on providing a follow-up in an upcoming post.

This Week: With the BCS Bowl having just passed and the SuperBowl in the near future, Christians face yet another opportunity to come to terms with the possibility that their team may not be the greatest in the world… or that the other team cheated. David Dunham faced such a dillema last year, and shared his thoughts.

Frustration, anger, disappointment, embarrassment; these are all feelings that stir up in any good sports fan as he watches his team lose a big game. These were my feelings as I yelled at the TV, threw my hate in the floor and finally resigned myself to accepting defeat on January 7th. My Ohio State Buckeyes, yet again, lost in the BCS Championship Game, this time to LSU. It felt like a replay of last year’s even more embarrassing devastation delivered to us by Florida. But the defeat did get me to wondering: what is the right way for Christians to respond when their sport’s team loses?

It’s not easy to accept defeat, nor to endure the embarrassment and shame that come along with it. Everyone hates to see their team lose, but the world has a particular view on sports that eats into the very heart of a person. When you say that an individual bleeds blue (like a Kentucky Wildcat fans), or when you become known and labeled as “The Buckeye Guy” you have moved beyond being a simple fan of your team. Men become obsessed with sports, and consequently with their teams. There is a degree of “loyalty” to which some fans go that is far beyond any right enjoyment in sports and any right delight in their teams. Why do fans shoot referees, why do men curse and swear and hold grudges when their teams lose? Why do some fans react in full on heartbroken tears and sobbing over the loss of Ohio State to LSU? I honestly don’t know the answer, but I know that it is not the type of reaction becoming of a Christian.

We are to be consumed by the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to “bleed” Scripture. We are to love and adore Christ. Being a Buckeye fan is fine. Getting frustrated at your teams loss is understandable. Reacting with bitterness, hurt, and rage over that loss, however, is idolatry. There is a point at which team devotion becomes team worship. It is an obsession that can hurt our evangelism, to be sure, but even more than that it can hurt our own spiritual growth. It is an obsession that can turn our hearts more and more to the things of this world and away from the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course sports aren’t alone in this temptation, but when I watch a game like I watched last night and I respond in the way I responded I sense it as more present and more prominent. Perhaps this is why God orchestrated OSU’s loss yesterday: to teach me a lesson about my own heart. If such is true then I am grateful for their defeat. Maybe next year God will be more inclined to teach someone on a different team this lesson!

About Dave Dunham
  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com Drew

    Good Word David. What year is that picture from? I am a big Oklahoma Sooners fan–so I got a kick out of the picture.

    As a Sooner fan I too have had to learn the discipline of responding in humility to my team’s BCS failures! This year, I didn’t get too too upset, in fact the next day someone told me they were really sorry on the phone and I didn’t know what they were talking about–I hope that is a good sign. Anyway, I hope that I am keeping the Sooners from becoming an idol. And I think you are exactly right when we despair because of a football team it says something about where our hope and joy is.

    I too have had to learn the lesson that God ordains my football teams losses for my good and His glory!

    Drews last blog post..Jesus . . . What are you doing here?

  • http://goannatree.blogspot.com Goannatree

    thanks for featuring this retropost. I find this feature of American culture fascinating. Being Australian I am well versed in the “religion of sport” but there it is pretty much Goddless. That is to say, Australians are more likely to religiously watch a certain sporting fixture than go to church! Why and how did do you think the intimate relationship between the invocation of God in the sporting arena come about?

    Goannatrees last blog post..The Purpose of Education: John Piper