Monday, February 6, 2012

Winning, Losing and What Really Matters

All who pass along the way clap their hands at you;
they hiss and wag their heads at daughter Jerusalem;
“Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty,
the joy of all the earth?”
All your enemies open their mouths against you;
they hiss, they gnash their teeth, they cry:
“We have devoured her!
Ah, this is the day we longed for;
at last we have seen it!”
The LORD has done what he purposed,
he has carried out his threat;
as he ordained long ago,
he has demolished without pity;
he has made the enemy rejoice over you,
and exalted the might of your foes.
Lamentations 2:15-17
I could not read about the game this morning.

When my team wins, I read the sports pages as if they were sacred text. I look at all of the pictures. I read what the winners said and what the losers said. I look for the human interest stories. It is a salvation history. Even if my team was favored, it still seems like a miracle.

As I read the stories, I can see the game unfolding and I relive the best moments. And then I want to turn on ESPN and see the same plays over and over.

But when my team loses, the world is darkness and not light. I cannot read the commentary or watch the replays on television. And I cannot stand the preening of the victors.

All of this is crazy, of course. It’s just a game. And in spite of our pathological determination to make believe that the games are determined by character and skill, the truth is that the distance between victory and defeat is often more complicated than that.

Yesterday our Youth Group collected money for the annual “Souper Bowl of Caring,” a nationwide youth program that raises funds for community food banks and soup kitchens around the country. Yesterday they collected more than five hundred dollars, and they raised more than two thousand dollars by making and selling pizzas. It was a great effort.

Since the “Souper Bowl” program began twenty years ago, the organization has raised more than $80 million dollars. This sounds like a lot, until you compare it to the total amount spent on the game, which was estimated at over $11 billion. The total amount raised to feed hungry people over the past twenty years is less than 1% of the amount spent on the game this year.

And that puts the notion of winning and losing in a very different perspective.

Where is our sense of proportion?

I love football.

The Super Bowl is a bizarre event on many different levels. But that is not the point. The problem is not that we care too much about a game, but that we care too little about so many other really important things in the world. Hungry people are just a start.

Still, except for the final score, it was a great game.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry for "your loss", Bill; at least on the human level/between friends. I don't like the feeling that it might be something akin to "kicking a man while he's down" but I am compelled to mention that the problem with sports mania isn't JUST SUPERBOWL(S). They are, as you pointed out through your comparison to the $-gap between "The Game" and feeding the hungry. Part of this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the sport-mania is not ONLY football; it is baseball, hockey, tennis golf, soccer ("foot-ball"), basketball, the olympics (& the events which precede them); it's college, high school, semi-pro and professional levels. I'm not sure if I'm making sense to you but as best as I can put it is that a large poart of this problem is that there is so much time (& money) devoted to sports in their numerous venues (both in different sports and the multitude of levels within each sport). That someone with as much personal devotion to sports, you could/would make the comparison which you did was, for me, a pleasant surprise.