Monday, January 25, 2010


God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:45

Two confessions:

First, I love sports. I love the competition of participating and the entertainment of watching. I love the unpredictability. And I love the drama. Long ago, when ABC began televising the “Wide World of Sports,” I was completely enthralled by “The drama of athletic competition. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Eventually, “Wide World of Sports” gave way to ESPN and the twenty-four hour cycle of sports news and hype. Just more evidence of the goodness of God's creation.

Second, I am a Brett Favre fan. This has not always been the case. I did not like him in Green Bay. I hated him when Green Bay beat the Patriots (and Drew Bledsoe) in 1996. But the man is now forty years old and he still plays in the NFL, for crying out loud! How is that even possible? Watching Favre is not as much fun as seeing Doug Flutie run for a touchdown when he was the same age. But any guy who can play quarterback at that age is my hero.

(And I will be rooting for Lance Armstrong in the Tour De France.)

As I write this I am wearing my Wrangler Jeans, which really are, as Brett says in the ads, “Real. Comfortable. Jeans. You can pay more, but you won’t get more.” In the ad, he is playing touch football with friends. Of course, I know they are really actors, but they look like friends. And I can easily imagine Brett playing touch football with friends. By comparison, does Tom Brady even have friends? I know he doesn’t wear Wrangler Jeans.

Anyone who doesn’t already know that the Brett Favre Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC Championship yesterday probably stopped reading this a few paragraphs ago. But just in case. The Vikings lost in overtime. They could have won the game in regulation. And they would have won the game in regulation if Favre had not thrown an interception when his team was in position to try to for the winning field goal. Of course, there were plenty of other things that went wrong, but the general theme of the commentators was that Favre threw it away, “Like he always does in the playoffs.” Because, "that's who Brett Favre is."

Since I have not forgiven the young Favre for beating my Patriots, there is a certain sense of Karma in this for me. So I am totally okay with Brett losing.

What I am not okay with, is the tendency of sports analysts to believe (yes, I have finally gotten to the point) that every athletic contest is a morality tale. It isn’t just a bad t throw, or even a bad judgment, it’s a character flaw.

When a kicker misses a field goal, or a receiver drops a pass that could have won the game, it becomes a character issue. The truth teaches a more difficult and more valuable lesson, success is not the same as character. The good guys don’t always win.

And sometimes there are good guys on both sides. How can anyone root against the Saints?

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