"Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."
Competition - "a game or race or other contest in which people try to win"ù Oxford Dictionary [I live in Oxford!!]
"I don't find anything wrong with trying to knock someone into the turf so far that they have to pull him out with a spatula", Christian college American Football player.
The reason that I am devoting a series of weekly emails to competition is that am convinced that the issue is massive for many Christian players. How can I love my opponent as myself while trying to crush her on the tennis court? Gary Warner suggests that, "there are few Christian athletes who do not struggle with their competitive nature."ù
I remember once saying to a successful Christian professional athlete, that his competiveness was part of the person God had made him. He replied: "I wonder if my competitive nature is perhaps a reflection of my sinfulness or my insecurity." An interesting point to ask yourself.
The tension consists in the perceived lack of compatibility between the performance-based values of the world of sport and Christian theology based on grace and undeserved favour. The values of sport teach a person self-reliance and meritocracy; Christianity teaches that man's only hope is to be found in God's love and mercy.
Tennis-player Nancy Richey became a Christian late in her career. She found it increasingly difficult to reconcile her competitive emotions with her new-found Christian faith. "When I stepped on to the court I felt I was in an isolated area and the Lord was outside of that area. I knew hating my opponent was not a Christian view." The problem was later solved when she learned that tennis was an act of worship?¢‚ and that she could worship God by trying to perfect her strokes on the court.ù We will develop this tension and suggest solutions over the coming weeks
PS A spatula is a spoon-like kitchen implement!