Torch, Summer 1980

pened to the friendly game? Even our Christian school and church teams reflect this win-at-all-cost attitude. It's not if, how, or why you play the game that counts anymore. Rather, it is beating the opponent into a submissive role and gaining bragging rights for the off– season. This attitude is neither new nor unique to our society. It has been around since man first became competitive. Cain and Abel were prime examples, although the finality of their competition was more dramatic than the games we play today. Sports seem to be so immersed in the desire for achievement of immediate reward that common sense and decency are often cast aside. Recently, I was told the story of a father who insisted that his son return an all-star trophy because he was not also given the most valuable player award. if a man strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." There are two implications in this verse: one, that strivings can be made in public contests; two, that strivings must be law– ful. The story is told of a professional golfer who called a penalty shot on himself. He knew it would cause him not only to lose a prestigious golf title, but also a lot of money. It would appear that this athlete had internalized the concept of striving lawfully both in the game of golf as well as in life, even though he was Ibelieve that winning, while important and at times necessary, should not be emphasized to the extent that Christian values and virtues are ignored. II Timothy 2:5 explains it this way: "And not a professing Christian. Another illustration regarding golf leaps to my mind but this one is not so noble. One day while golfing with a friend to whom I had been witnessing, ,, we observed one of my fellow Christians who had hit his ball into an out-of– bounds area near where we were teeing off. We observed this Christian, well– respected in the community, dropping the ball-not in the out-of-bounds area- but at the edge of the rough. There, it was quite playable with no penalty. This man, no doubt, would be aghast should anyone infer dishonesty in his church, social, or financial life; yet, he clearly cheated at golf. My non– Christian friend was quick to point out the inconsistency in that Christian's con– duct. Whywould any Christian do such a thing? Would the desire to win be the cause? As Christians, we know that the "end i justifies the means" philosophy is unac– ceptable to our moral structure. We also know that the ends which the world values are often not the ends which God values. Athletics can be a tremendous training program, developing positive character that will aid the participant in every aspect of his life. But athletics must not be viewed as an end in itself. We must reject the world's constant emphasis of the immediate outcome of winning at all costs. In athletics, and in every area of our lives, we must strive lawfully to obtain the prize; our striving should be governed by the desire to bring glory to our God. Dr. Callan is Professor of Physical Education at Cedarville College. He was selected NA.IA. District 22 Coach of the Year.