Of Smartphones and Spirals

The St. Louis Rams have contacted Brett Favre about being their quarterback. Yep, Brett Favre. Fortunately, he turned them down.

As a Packers fan, I have mixed emotions about Favre. He may be one of the NFL’s all-time greats, but the drama surrounding his many retirements tarnished my perception of his legacy.

I bring this up because for the past few days Donna and I have been talking about how our culture values athletes. We often equate athletic ability with heroism. We admire hard work and competiveness. Countless children have aspired to be the next great whoever playing whatever.

I enjoy watching sports, mostly football and golf. I used to watch a lot of boxing, but MMA has pushed it to the sidelines. Watching athletes drive themselves to the limit to win, or just go the distance, entertains and inspires.

Well, it at least entertains.

I’ve become a firm believer that pro sports are pure entertainment. I enjoy them, but that’s about it. I’m under no illusion that the athletes are good people just because they can throw a ball.

I think we make a mistake when we equate character with athletic performance. For instance, one of the most inspiring athletic performances of all time was given by a man who later served time in prison for cocaine possession.

In 1975, Chuck Wepner stood toe to toe with Muhammad Ali for 14 and ¾ rounds. His courage inspired Sylvester Stallone to create Rocky. But, Chuck Wepner went to prison, despite having the guts to face the Greatest.

Ali vs. Wepner

Ali vs. Wepner

Let’s be honest. The ability to throw, catch, run, hit, serve, drive, dribble, shoot, or pass does not equal personal integrity and character.

Admittedly, many great athletes are also good people. Numerous pros are outspoken about their faith in Christ. Some of their teammates, however, would steal our best china if given the chance. Yet, because they can do things on the field or court that we can’t, they often get a pass.

Let me return to Brett Favre.

If you keep up with politics, then you know the name Anthony Weiner. He famously was caught in a sexting scandal and resigned his congressional seat. This year he ran for the Democratic nomination for the office of New York Mayor. He failed. His past foibles and the revelations that he continued his wrongful use of a smart phone cost him the nomination.

Good.

Favre, while with the New York Jets, committed the same act as the Congressman. He sent nude pictures of himself to a female reporter who covered the Jets. Yet, he is now volunteering as a coach with a Mississippi High School and receiving offers to come back on the field.

Not good.

What’s the difference?

Anthony Weiner can’t throw a football so hard that it breaks the receiver’s fingers.

American culture values Favre’s athletic ability over Weiner’s political skills.

Brett gets a pass. Anthony just looks like a jerk.

Coach Favre

Coach Favre

Please don’t take me wrongly. Sports themselves are good things. How we value them is the problem.

The player who hits the walk-off home run may end up a criminal, while the pitcher that gave up the homer may be your brother in Christ.

Enjoy the game.

Encourage your kids to play.

Remember though, character and godliness come from inside a heart changed by Christ, not from a well swung bat or perfectly thrown spiral.

Go, Packers.

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