Friday, April 18, 2008

Vicarious Greatness – On Being a Fan

I am a sports fan. Here at Sidney we have many sports fans. Why? Why are we sports fans? For example I am a fan of the New England Patriots. Why? I have never played for the Patriots, I have never worked for the Patriots, and I have never had a relative play for the Patriots.

Now I think that if we go to a little league and see moms and dads screaming at umpires we get that don’t we. Even if we think that some of what they do is distasteful. Those people are passionate because they are passionate about their kids. But what about college and sports teams. Why do we follow certain teams and not others, and why do we care at all.

I have a theory. It’s what I call vicarious greatness. When the Patriots won their three super bowls I got to celebrate. I got to harass my wife (a Jets fan) because my team won even though I had never played a down of football. I get to share in something that I could never do myself. I could never throw a football like Tom Brady, or tackle like Tedy Bruschi. But because I am their fan I get to share in their greatness. I feel great because of my connection to them.

This can be healthy and unhealthy. Healthy in the sense that our teams can inspire us to attempt challenging things and there is the entertainment value (when it is not crude or vulgar). But it can be unhealthy if we are so invested in these teams that we find more joy in there successes and little joy in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.

We must not allow our hopes and dreams to be tied up in am athletic team that we are not involved in. Be entertained but have your own dreams. Live your own life. Attempt great things for God. Be inspired by the hard work of athletes, but let that inspiration drive to set goals and work hard at achieving those goals.

P.S. – Now I want to share with you where I learned the uncommon word vicarious. It is in my study of the Cross of Christ. Christ’s death in our place was a vicarious death, earning a vicarious atonement. He bears our sins in our place as a substitute. Then when we come to Him in repentance and faith, because of what He did we get forgiveness of our sins. Like Brady’s passing it has absolutely nothing to do with my ability or effort, it is a free gift offered by the One who suffered in our place.

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