I love sports. I rarely write about them here, but I once tried to maintain a sport’s blog. I can barely maintain this one. There are so many stories told between the lines of whatever field you are talking about: stories about overcoming, teamwork, adversity, dealing with defeat, winning with humility…or not, sportsmanship, etc. Sports provides ready made ammunition for sermon illustrations, both good and bad, for preachers like myself.
I am a football (American) fan at heart, though I have a healthy enough love for baseball and basketball as well. I usually pay attention to golf only during the Majors. The only sport I completely ignore is auto racing (okay, maybe bowling, rugby, and cricket too!). During the Olympics, I will pretty much watch anything, and yes, during the World Cup, I jump on the USA bandwagon.
I was incredulous today when I read Ann Coulter’s column villainizing the increased interest in soccer as a sign of American moral decay. It might have been one of the most ignorant columns I’ve ever read. You can read it here. Maybe she meant some of it tongue-in-cheek, but it was offensive nonetheless.
Rather than breakdown all the ridiculous logic and bias reflected in her column, I thought I would write a few words about why I think America’s increased interest in soccer is a good thing.
I better had start with revealing my own bias: I detest American exclusivity–the attitude that partaking, in any way, of the global stage is necessarily anti-American. Coulter’s column suggested that soccer is anti-American because it is “foreign.” Who cares? So is a lot of great food I enjoy too! The idea that to be a good American you only get to do distinctively American things would actually ruin America. One of the great things about America is that it represents such a wide spectrum of all the cultures of the world, while maintaining freedom for all.
This is a Christian theology blog, and if you search my archives, you will find that I’m deeply suspicious of mixing faith and patriotism, but I do love my country. I love my country for many of the very things that Coulter labels as anti-American.
Soccer is the world sport, whether American football fans like myself want to admit it or not! Now I can make a very detailed case why our football is better than the world’s football, but that would defeat my purpose in this post and spoil the World Cup fervor (thanks Ann Coulter for trying to do just that)! It is good for our citizens to witness and to be emotionally invested into this global passion. We are first fellow human beings and citizens of this planet BEFORE being Americans.
You don’t have to be a Christian to agree with anything I said above, but I want to address Christian Americans directly here. Our first citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). We first belong to a kingdom of all nations (Rev. 5:9). Our call is to be an advocate for all nations under God not just “one nation under God.” If our patriotism causes us to fail to cherish people of all nations, then we are missing this calling from God.
No, you don’t have to love soccer in general or the World Cup in particular to be a good Christian. You don’t have to acknowledge the existence of sports at all for that matter.
Not everyone finds their inspiration in people chasing balls and colliding on fields and courts or rings or whatever. And no the World Cup is not the Kingdom of God, but I do believe when you see people of all ethncities, languages, and flags jumping around and celebrating together that we might, at least, be reminded of what the Kingdom is all about. And there’s nothing anti-American about it and certainly nothing anti-Christian either.