"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
Well, this should elicit lots of e-mails from the title alone. That is to be expected. The subject matter itself, God, is usually relegated to the sanctity and hushed tones of the household and the church, not necessarily in that order. Further, what the heck is God doing in a commentary on a sports site instead of whether Manny Ramirez should be in the All-Star balloting, Alex Rodriguez is forgiven all his transgressions and Michael Phelps has limited his breathing in and out to various sprints from one end of the pool to the other?
Do you really believe that any religious zealot in the south, operating in either a tent or magnificent tribute to himself built with the donations of his flock, can slap someone on the forehead, yell "Say Jesus!" and the ailment of that person will suddenly disappear, he or she will walk again, see what they have never seen before, be freed from cancer and become pregnant after being told by their physician that they could not?
When an athlete points his fingers skyward as a thankful gesture to some unseen Supreme Being that he has never met nor engaged in conversation other than one which takes place in one direction only, have he and his team really been selected as the victors of the day? Is he the recipient of some blessed intrusion that allowed him to make an incredibly difficult catch, hit a home run, score 49 points in the space of a basketball game or simply run faster than anyone else? Is there truly some blessed and deified process that chooses one human over the other, one team to best another?
Where are we going with all this?
It is expected that you should ask, with fingers poised on your own keyboard to either agree, castigate, applaud or dismiss. The answer is really simple. Any feeling of a God-like presence, an ability to do better, to win the day, is within one's self. Some Divine Being, all-knowing, all-wise, Light of the World or Sovereign of the Universe did not arise and handicap the Yankees-Boston contest, Pens against the Wings, Lakers versus the Magic or upcoming Philadelphia Eagles taking on the New York Giants.
When an athlete points his fingers skyward as a thankful gesture to some unseen Supreme Being that he has never met nor engaged in conversation other than one which takes place in one direction only, have he and his team really been selected as the victors of the day?
There was no conversation between the Almighty, whom none of you out there nor any of the athletes paying appreciative homage to Him have ever met, and anyone down here. And, for example, what did not take place was St. Peter, Moses or Jesus being asked if they like the over-under or want to lay the points on any of the contests taking place that day. Also, none of them, if they are out there, had one scintilla of influence on the outcome.
It was all accomplished by the men and women playing the game. Thanking one's mother for the genes passed along would be acceptable. Acknowledgement to a coach for the training regimen and confidence placed in one seems too obvious. Credit and recognition to team-mates for their having a hand in whatever was just done would be a departure from the usual.
Beating one's breast, pointing skyward and telling the interviewer that Jesus made it all happen plays well in lots of places. There is no denying that. But, the truth of the matter is that the God that made it all possible is the one built into one's very being. Divine guidance and all the prayer you can muster does not affect the outcome of the game.
Sacrilegious? Up to you and okay if that makes you feel better. Blasphemous? Nah, just truthful and stating a fact, going beyond the "It is God's way" refrain that is intended to obviate the investigative and inquisitive while avoiding any dialogue that questions, that pursues, that seeks answers. Irreverence? Probably. Disrespect? Not intended as such. Cheapening that which the athlete does when he thanks a Being he cannot see nor communicate with other than unilaterally? Nope, I will not plead to that either.
One is allowed to disagree. You with me and me with an athlete actually believing that he and his team were chosen, so to speak, and that the competition has a lesser station in life and sports, not deserving of the win of the day.
Prayer and seeking Divine Guidance are reaching into one's self, the place where the inspiration of the day rests comfortably until needed and awakened. Then it comes into play, from within. That is where God resides, within you. It is you, athlete or otherwise, that can be God for a day, for a moment, for as long as you wish. It is the inspiration that there is actually an influential Being guiding your every movement that makes it happen.
The eyes and fingers will continue to point and gaze skyward in a gesture of thanks to someone that had nothing to do with the outcome but it feels good and raises the level of one's belief, of one's approach to religion. Right, I cannot argue with that but I certainly can comment upon it objectively and have to believe that you do the same unless St. Peter and you took the points.
Will it change and will I get some derisive, accusatory and threatening comments back? You gotta be kidding!