“Chariots of Fire” and the vocation of athletics

A rabbi writing in the Wall Street Journal offers reflections on Chariots of Fire, the 1981 movie about Olympic runners Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams.  The movie, of course, is about athletics as VOCATION.

Read an excerpt from the column after the jump, whereupon I offer some reflections about it, including the difference between Liddell’s Calvinist understanding of the vocation of an athlete and what a Lutheran view would add.

[Read more…]

St. Sebastian, patron saint of athletes and of Rio

You don’t have to believe in the Roman Catholic cult of the saints to find it interesting that St. Sebastian–the one who was shot through with arrows–is the patron saint of athletes.  Also of this year’s Olympics host city Rio de Janeiro.  What is the connection?  Find out after the jump.

Luther said that we should not pray to the saints, but that we can learn from their example.  Note what we can learn about athletics from St. Sebastian. [Read more…]

Oklahoma feels better now

While the rest of the country was celebrating the 4th of July, my state of Oklahoma mourned, as Thunder superstar Kevin Durant declared his independence and signed with the much-resented and already-too-good Golden State Warriors.  But now we all feel better, as the Thunder’s other superstar, Russell Westbrook–instead of being traded as everyone expected–gave up next year’s free agency to sign a three-year $85.7 million contract extension.

He is staying!  He is a thrilling player, who had been somewhat in the shadow of Durant but who excelled more than usual when Durant was injured.  Westbrook, the two-time MVP of the All Star Game, is now the face of the Thunder.  And Oklahoma’s favorite athlete. [Read more…]

The Olympics begin

Despite the Zika virus, Russian dopers, apartments said to be unfit for human habitation, fear of terrorism, and excrement in the water-events bay, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will have its opening ceremonies tonight, Friday, at 7:00 p.m. ET, to be televised on NBC.  (Go here for how to watch the ceremony and the subsequent games online.)

Despite the uncertainty and the concerns, the event, which goes from August 5-21, promises to be a good show.  Team USA is expected to do very well.

There have been years that I have resisted, but then I turn on the TV and get drawn in.  Part of that is how the games are covered:  The television shows not just the contest but also goes deeply into the “human” side of the games, telling about the different participants and their sometimes inspiring stories.

Are you a fan?  Will you be watching?  Do you know any dramas or interesting contests that we should be watching for?

[Read more…]

Russians won’t be completely banned from the Olympics

How bad is Russian use of banned performance-enhancing drugs?  Even the country’s paralympic team–those participating in the feel-good competition for disabled athletes–was caught doping.  Nevertheless, the International Olympics Committee has ruled that the Russian Olympics team will be allowed to compete in Rio next month, though its athletes will face extra scrutiny and some teams (such as track and field) may be banned by the sport’s governing body. [Read more…]

Ban Russia from the Olympics?

An arbitration court confirmed that Russia’s track and field team, which was caught in a major doping and cover-up scandal, can be banned from the Olympics.  The ruling also opened the door to banning the entire Russian delegation, if the International Olympics Committee so decides.

Do you think Russia should be banned from the competition? [Read more…]