Sport and religion need divine intervention

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    What do Tim Tebow and Margaret Court have in common? Using their ‘sport hero’ status, they both feel an obligation to preach to those that don’t follow their belief system, and both have also shared their irrational insecurities about their athletic ability.

    Separately these characteristics are tolerable but for me when they are combined they are the most frustrating thing in the sporting world.

    Note: Before I get into the nitty gritty, I’d like to say that I am not writing this with the intention of offending anyone. I am simply stating my opinion on an issue which has been on my mind for some time. I will try to do so in the most respectful way possible.

    Tim Tebow. NFL quarterback for the Denver Broncos and the man behind the popular ‘Tebowing’ craze .

    Along with his footballing duties, Tebow takes every opportunity to pray, talk about Jesus, preach and talk about Jesus some more, much like his pastor father.

    When Denver wins Tebow doesn’t put that down to his own ability, his hours of training and dedication to learning the ins and outs of the sport. He doesn’t put it down to the hard work of his teammates and coaching staff around him.

    No, he puts it all down to Jesus, first and foremost.

    Jesus, to Tebow is basically dishing out favours like he’s got a catalogue of I.O.Us from a poker night gone wrong.

    He just calls it “being blessed”.

    Tebow has made it very clear that his priorities in life put God first. Not family or friends, not his career, not contributing to the world, but God.

    Though I think it’s mad to put family second to anything, that part of Tebow’s faith alone is fine.

    In fact he’s not the only sportsperson to have voiced this sort of thanks and devotion to their god or their “lord and saviour Jesus Christ”. It’s quite common actually. If it gives them greater self-belief then power to them.

    But here’s what I really don’t like.

    In the past, Tebow and his faith led him to put his face to a controversial anti-abortion Superbowl advertisement. But more on that stuff later.

    Like Tebow, here in Australia our very own Australian tennis legend of the 60s and 70s Margaret Court was involved in another controversial talking point with her passionate contribution to the Herald Sun yesterday.

    Expanding on comments she first made during the ALP conference earlier this month Court, now an evangelistic preacher, listed her pet hates about society today.

    This included lying politicians, political correctness, the decline of Christian values and the sanctity of marriage, and the inability of gay people to “work” harder at being straight. Her words, not mine.

    Court also revealed her insecurity over her outstanding achievements.

    Winning 62 Grand Slam titles during her seventeen-year career, she believes that if she had “accepted Jesus Christ, and believed that he came to earth as the son of god, to die for our sins” she “could have won six Wimbledons, not three.”

    Just like Tebow, Court believes that she could have cashed in on some sort of points system where more faith equates to more trophies. What a deal!

    Don’t you think it’s sad that these two have such little faith in their own ability?

    But back to the religiously fuelled, backward political stance Tebow and Court indulge in.

    I truly can’t stand when sportspeople and religion get tangled up in politics. It’s never, ever a good look. As the average sports fan all I’m hearing is, “I’m a big successful sport star, listen to me”. Pure arrogance.

    Court and Tebow are fine people. They certainly seem polite and law-abiding. It is true that everyone is entitled to their opinion and should be free to practice their religion.

    But when you impose that religion on others, use to it to degrade yourself and those around you, while also spreading outdated, oppressive views, you are pushing your luck.

    Anyway, my point in it all is this – separate the two vices. In the sporting arena Tebow and Court are/were marvellous.

    Just keep your religion and it’s associated political stances private, and let your sporting gift be public. That’s how it should be.

    After all, if my brief stint in the Catholic education system taught me anything (besides how to run a Melbourne Cup sweep), it’s that Jesus was all about humility. Or something.

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    The Crowd Says (87)

    • January 26th 2012 @ 9:14am
      MattRusty said | January 26th 2012 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Melanie, I feel your pain, I agree with most of what you say but my concern is that writing this piece will not give you peace.

      I don’t agree with your point that these people should keep their opinions on religion and politics to themselves, because that would contradict the concept of free speech. You get your opportunity to share your view here and we’re listening but who are we to tell you what you should and shouldn’t have an opinion on. If we all reflect on why their comments frustrate us if we were honest perhaps we’d conclude that we’re just a little bit jealous that they are in a better position to share their view compared to ourselves.

      I recommend that instead of being frustrated, you become fascinated by the influence of religion. How so many people can believe in something which was based on formed over 2,000 years ago, a message that has lasted the test of time even though evidence is there to counter their beliefs is incredible. I can’t get my head around why they believe what they do, what motivates them to say what they say, perhaps it’s fear, maybe it’s greed (“I could have had 6 Wimbledon’s instead of 3!) but you gotta respect the power of it.

      I really like the way you closed the article about being more humble, like Jesus. But then again Jesus did say “spread the word of the Lord”. Is it too cynical a point to think that one thought you can have about these people is that they might be easily manipulated by other people because of their unconditional belief in “things”?

      • January 26th 2012 @ 3:31pm
        joe blackswan said | January 26th 2012 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

        “Is it too cynical…” no, I think that is actually a fair call. The fact that children are indoctrinated with religious beliefs by their parents (yes, some find “god” on their own as adults….usually after their last crutch broke) and thus learn not to question, just accept fiction as fact, would go a long way to explain how someone can be so readily manipulated to endorse a concept in the name of a deity. How else can you explain a young person strapping a bomb to themself and walking into a group of innocent people? This goes against human nature.

        • January 26th 2012 @ 7:32pm
          JohnM said | January 26th 2012 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

          Correct me if I am wrong, but It seems like a very primitive black and white worldview you have there Joe.

          Parents who do “indoctrinate” their children (i.e. the minority of religious parents in the west) and teach them not to question are essentially priming their kids for athiesm/agnosticism. Everyone has a worldview, and kids are normally raised with a positive disposition to this worldview because of their parents influence. It goes both ways. What’s your beef?

          Do you have kids yourself? How open-minded might you be if one of them chose, on their own initiative, to start exploring the bible and seeking to understand the life and message of Jesus from the New Testament? What about reading the Koran and wearing a head covering?

          As for your final point, why does death, bloodshed, hatred, spite, ethnic conflict, survival of the fittest go against “human nature”? Do you not believe in biological evolution, or have you merely been fed Disney movies for the last 27 years?

          Part of the Tebow angle IMO is that he genuinely loves talking about God at each and every opportunity, as a core part of his being. It is not just the sort of tokenism you see from Grammy award winners. It is also very hypocritical for people to allege to follow Jesus but not seek to promote the good news that he proclaimed (Matt. 28:18-20).

          • January 27th 2012 @ 2:39pm
            joe blackswan said | January 27th 2012 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

            John,

            yes, I will correct you because you are wrong. I find it ironic that you say that I have a “very primitive black and white worldview”….do you see the irony? Religions, a man made construct, that is thousands of years old that states you have to worship a said god or you are considered less human; and you must follow a particular way of life….you are aware that in christianity (see original 10 commandments, not the altered catholic version) that women are on par as chatels and farmyard animals?

            Have you heard of the Age of Enlightenment (starting in 17th century)? granted, this too was a long time ago.

            do you know what apostasy is john? How do these children feel when they want to leave their religion? what if your child is gay?

            John, if someone wants to to go down a religious path under their own steam because it offers them guidance, comfort, happiness then I have no problem with that.

            “As for your final point, why does death, bloodshed, hatred, spite, ethnic conflict, survival of the fittest go against “human nature”? Do you not believe in biological evolution, or have you merely been fed Disney movies for the last 27 years?”…hmmm, I am not sure if you are trying to twist my comment about dodgy backpacks or if you are not bright enough to understand what you are saying. We humans were at one point swinging in the trees as chimpanzees…we evolved into neanderthals and then to the homo sapiens we are today (yes, I have missed many stages)… man left africa and travelled to all parts of the world, they did so in groups, they nurtured and protected those in the group, thus the group survived and thrived….when threatened they would whack each other over the head with a tree branch or rock. Fast forward a few years, we have evolved into full societies whose members are capable of reason and logic; to live and let live. When someone tries to manipulate another person to think and behave in an unreasonable way, this goes against human nature….and is not a case of “survival of the fittest”, you could argue it is “bloodshed” and “ethnic conflict” but these are not inherrited human qualities.

            Regarding Tebow speaking publicly about his love of god, so be it….when he starts telling others how to act because that is what his religion preaches, it’s inappropriate.

            Religion would be better if it acknowledged some of their ideologies are out dated in terms of human decency and made changes accordingly. (Joe 27:01:12)

    • January 26th 2012 @ 9:15am
      amazonfan said | January 26th 2012 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      What really annoys me about Tebow is the hypocrisy which is that if he was the exact same person, with the exact same views on moral issues (such as abortion), but was a Muslim (whom, in victory speeches said ‘Allah is Great’), he would be condemned as a religious extremist by the same people who support him now. For too many people who embrace his public religiosity, their support would cease if he was of the ‘wrong’ religion.

      As for Court, she was a wonderful tennis player, perhaps the greatest female player of all time, however her views are incredibly disappointing, to say the least.

    • Roar Guru

      January 26th 2012 @ 9:26am
      mds1970 said | January 26th 2012 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      Margaret Court is no longer a tennis player, she’s been retired for decades. She is now a preacher, and her comments are as a preacher rather than as a tennis player. Her tennis past gives her a profile, but that’s a part of her life that’s long gone.
      But it was silly of her to suggest she could have won six Wimbledons instead of three had she been a Christian at the time. I don’t know what her pre-Christian lifestyle was like, but unless she was indulging in some activity which affected her tennis, then I can’t see how it could have made any difference.

      I’m a Christian – I may not always act like one, but I was brought up in a Christian environment and although I no longer have the time or interest in attending church more than once every couple of months, I still believe in Jesus. But that’s my faith, not necessarily anyone else’s – and I wouldn’t mention my beliefs on The Roar unless, like this, it’s directly relevant to the discussion. I was never any good at playing sport, although I love watching and talking about it. But I don’t subscribe to the theory that being a Christian automatically qualifies you to be wealthy or successful or anything like that – and believing in God is a different thing completely to following sport. (and for what it’s worth, I’m not fussed either way about gay marriage).

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2012 @ 6:44pm
        Melanie Dinjaski said | January 26th 2012 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

        Thanks for your contribution mds1970. Very interesting comments and shared in a very honest and civil fashion.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2012 @ 9:48pm
        Ben Carter said | January 26th 2012 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

        Hi mds – as Mel said, well put. As a Christian person myself (and equally imperfect too!), I am someone who believes that IF a sportsperson also happens to be a Christian/Muslim/Jewish person, etc, etc, then that is part of their overall life and MAY, at times, come into their sporting activities. Fair enough – they shouldn’t have to deny what they believe in order to enjoy/play sport.
        And if they do attribute their skill/ability etc to a God-given talent, then fair enough. They are humble enough to acknowledge that not everything in life is about themselves.
        Sport and religion have had a long and potent mix. Ali comes to mind (for good or bad) and there have been plenty of political statements made on the sporting field over the years, too. Provided they are expressing their own personal belief (on any given issue) and not necessarily telling everyone else where to go/what to do then fair enough. If Tebow is against abortion, that is his perogitive (and I would understand why). He is a reasonably famous person who happens to have a political/ethical view – so what? Bono from U2 has a stance against poverty (for all his own fallibility) – he is free to make that claim and just happens to also be reasonably well known. Big deal. As others have said, if we took away what sportspeople believe, you’d lose something of the character potential of sport. Sport without belief in something bigger makes it less enthralling. Ditto for music, etc, etc…

    • January 26th 2012 @ 9:29am
      Chris said | January 26th 2012 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      One of the great things about living in a free society is the freedom of expression. I may not agree with everything that is said by public figures, but they certainly have the right to an opinion and the right to share it. If the media decides that they are willing to broadcast those opinions, then so be it.

      Please tell me how these people are imposing their views on you? They are well known for having a belief system and are not afraid to be public about it. If you’re so offended by what they have to say, don’t read the articles in the paper and switch off when they get interviewed on tv/radio.

      Lastly, by publically describing their beliefs as “backward”, “outdated” and “oppressive” you are being very hypocritical. Why should you be able to slag off what they believe in when you resent their public support of their beliefs? Can’t have it both ways Melanie.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2012 @ 6:51pm
        Melanie Dinjaski said | January 26th 2012 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

        “Please tell me how these people are imposing their views on you?”

        – When I’m watching the Superbowl, I don’t want to be preached to or sold your religiously fuelled backward political views. There was already one ad inspired by Tebow that was rejected for it’s overt attempt to spread “religious doctrine” –

        Do what you want in private, follow whatever god you want in private. Fine. But when it starts imposing on the average sportsfan that’s a problem. If I wanted to be preached to then I’d go to a church.

        • January 26th 2012 @ 10:10pm
          Oracle said | January 26th 2012 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

          As soon as someone thanks “the good lord” for their success, then leave me out.
          So much for the “Good Lord” looking over their opponent/s
          Apparently “the Good Lord” is not discriminatory, so the argument ends right there and then.

        • Roar Rookie

          January 27th 2012 @ 8:17pm
          Tom Storey said | January 27th 2012 @ 8:17pm | ! Report

          I don’t want to be preached to about Pespi or Coors Light, but they pay for the right to do so and therefore are allowed. As an Australian fan, you don’t even get the US advertisements, but if Tebow is used to promote Christianity as his belief that’s no different from Aaron Rodgers promoting State Farm as his preferred insurance agent. They’re all there to do the same thing.

          If you’re smart enough to make your own decision about insurance, I’m sure you can do it about religion.

          Tebow certainly isn’t the first sportsman to ever thank God for his achievements, and you really need to look a lot further into American football culture if you think he’s the only one doing it. I’d suggest you start here:

          http://www.nfl.com/videos/baltimore-ravens/09000d5d8264b360/Ray-Lewis-postgame-speech

    • Columnist

      January 26th 2012 @ 9:36am
      Ryan O'Connell said | January 26th 2012 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Gusty article Mel, and I commend you for writing it. This will no doubt bring out some strong opinions in people.

      Though it must be said, if all athletes just shut their trap and never offered their views/opinions, etc, then sports would be a lot more boring. Regardless of whether what they say is right or wrong (in people’s minds).

      It’s also worth noting that without personal opinion, this very website wouldn’t exist. After all, look at the line next to The Roar logo at the top of the page.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2012 @ 10:05am
        Rabbitz said | January 26th 2012 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        Ryan,

        Is there not a disconnect here? That is, a theological or theistic opinion is not really a sports opinion.

        (well except for say a Christians vs. Lions Test Match)

        • Columnist

          January 26th 2012 @ 10:52am
          Ryan O'Connell said | January 26th 2012 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          Are you saying athletes are only allowed to have an opinion on sports and nothing else?

          I don’t think you are, but it’s a dangerous path to go down to infer that some types of opinions are ok, but others aren’t.

          • Roar Guru

            January 26th 2012 @ 4:18pm
            dasilva said | January 26th 2012 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

            Everyone has the right to express their opinion

            We shouldn’t censor or ban people for expressing their opinion

            However, everyone doesn’t have the right to have their opinion “respected”

            In the end, if you strongly disagree with the opinion and thing it’s garbage, unethical and you believe that they should shut their mouth because of it then that’s also an “opinion” that people are allow to express.

            As long as people are not advocating people being imprisoned or having their job lost because of their “opinion” then believing that some opinions are ok but others aren’t is perfectly fine.

    • January 26th 2012 @ 10:11am
      kovana said | January 26th 2012 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      “Don’t you think it’s sad that these two have such little faith in their own ability?”

      No. Its shows that they are humble enough to admit they needed help. Whether from god or humans they recognize their own limits.

      ALSO.. Its freedom of speech..

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