I came across this article from FirstThings.com. Its main point is that football is dangerous and has resulted in some deaths from head injuries. I’m not trying to belittle this point because it’s an important one but is this the only criteria we should look at as Christians when we consider whether or not to play a sport? If not, what other criteria should we have? Below are some excerpts from the article:
Life is hard, and physical exertion is a part of recreation and play, but surely there are limits to our toleration of violence that is not absolutely necessary. We would not allow our children to bruise one another with two-by-fours until they fall, bleeding, to the ground. While recognizing that not every child suffers the gravest consequences of contact sports, we ought to question why we allow football to damage and even kill our children or dismiss the question because they’re not our children.
No one enjoys legalism, but if the costs of football outweigh its benefits—and they well may—it may be best for many to take a step back from it and point youths to concentrate on less violent sports. Perhaps we should go so far as to consider legislation regarding the physical safety of football players on such matters as concussions. Ideas will vary as to what such a measure might look like. However, such a tangible measure, borne of respect for human dignity and concern for the public good, would help greatly in stimulating the American conscience on a matter that presently struggles to hold its attention.
Such action has a strong theoretical foundation. In a very different situation, our Lord urged Peter to resist needless violence (John 18:11). Christians have continued this tradition throughout history and have applied the biblical conscience to a variety of causes, including recreation. Whether one considers the cessation of the gladiatorial games in the days of the early church, the ending of savage bestial games in Wilberforce’s day, or the banning of dueling in the nineteenth century, Christians have often led the culture in critical analysis of its pastimes.
Having thought carefully and well, Christians today must emulate their Lord in standing up for the frail dignity of humanity, whether the unborn child, the victim of religious persecution, or the homecoming king—the boy who in his death, as in his final touchdown run, passed alone into his rest, uncaught, with no foe left to pursue.