This is Pastor Tim’s article that appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, April 19, 2021
I used to be a big Cleveland Browns fan. I actually still have a junk email address that I use to sign up on websites in order to keep my normal email clear. That email address is email@example.com. I used to be a big sports fan. As a student pastor, I served the Fort Recovery and Erastus churches over in Mercer County. The parsonage they had at the time had a large basement. I put a TV down there, and I had about 100 feet of wires spreading speakers all over the basement. After leading worship in two churches on Sunday morning, I would go down there and watch NFL games the rest of the day in glorious surround sound. I had that basement decked out in Star Wars paraphernalia, and I would sort through my boxes of action figures all afternoon. I still remember that as one of the happiest times of my life.
Almost 20 years ago, I got into a fantasy baseball league with some friends all over the state of Ohio. I had never played fantasy sports before and fell in LOVE with it. I ended up winning the league that year, and I still have an autographed baseball from all of the other players that season.
I am a former High School football player, and I threw the shot put and discus on the track team. I still work out to this day. Many of you have probably seen me trotting down the towpath or dragging tires around my yard. I just ordered a new football off eBay, and I am currently looking across my desk at two tetherballs I plan to hang on poles in the church parking lot for the kids to play with.
All of this is to say that I love sports. Yet, I don’t watch them, I don’t follow them, and I no longer care about them. NCAA or professional, I haven’t watched a sporting event in years. The last sporting event I watched was 2 years ago when I went to watch our beloved Rough Riders play football.
I am not boycotting, I am not making any kind of statement about anything, and I honestly don’t care about anything the sports leagues are doing. I just got fed up with the fact that we can’t do anything without having politics being the most important thing about it. Football players kneeling, basketball players wearing political statements on their jerseys, and now baseball has pulled the All-Star game away from Georgia for purely political reasons. Why does everything have to be virtue signaling? Why can’t we have a time where we just set aside our differences and do something simply because it is fun?
Where do we escape from this onslaught of politics? Where can I go get away from hearing a slant on something? You see, my concern is that we have all grown so overly sensitive to politics that we all now have politically colored glasses with which we look at the world. I occasionally get hate mail from the articles I put in the paper. I also occasionally get some political blowback from sermons on Sunday morning. I always find that interesting because I am not a political person. I have opinions, just like everyone else, and I certainly lean one direction on the scale, just like everyone else, but I write these articles to present an issue and open a conversation for you to consider. FYI, unsigned hate mail with no return address is not a conversation, for those of you who are confused.
What I am really concerned about is the fact that we are conditioned to just see politics in everything. Is it liberal, conservative, lean to the right, lean to the left, affirm this, or deny that? This prevents us from listening and skipping directly to evaluating and categorizing.
This knee jerk reaction to stuffing everyone under one of two umbrellas on every issue is unhealthy, and it leads to things like cartoons getting cancelled and people giving groveling apologies that make no sense. It causes people to live in terror of the virtue mob coming after them unless they go along with whatever direction the wind is blowing.
Can we please, for the love of God, just get back to doing things because they are fun? I want to watch baseball games without thinking about voting laws, watch basketball without subliminal messaging, and sing the national anthem before a football game and feel a swell of pride in my country.
Is that too much to ask?