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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The easy way out?

Has sports replaced religion in our society? I think maybe it has. It's hard to argue that point looking at the sports page in the newspaper or looking at football stadiums on weekends.

The more curious question, for me, is why. Are we looking for an escape? Are we looking for meaning? How many of us who are sports fans can honestly say that we are as invigorated on Sunday mornings as we are on Sunday afternoons? For those who aren't sports fans, how often are you more excited about a worship service than you are about your favorite television show? How many of us care more about what takes place on a screen in our living room than what takes place across the street?

Now that survival is generally no longer a challenge for us, are we desperate to escape the malaise of our everyday lives to be a part of something larger and more exciting? Are we looking for a gift for ourselves when we already have "everything?" Are we choosing the easy way out by escaping into entertainment and comfort instead of looking to connect with the people around us and finding ways to change our worlds for the better?

I think we are, and I think it's because it's easier to choose that path. Most of us in the U.S. don't have to work especially hard to eat, sleep and survive each day. The tribes and battles that would have engaged us centuries ago are gone or at least irrelevant for most of us, or they are half a world away where they are easily forgotten. For many people, questions of faith and reason are much murkier than they were for prior generations, and religion isn't the simple answer it once was (not that it can't still ultimately be a solution). Perhaps we are struggling to hold on to any meaning we can, even if it is as fleeting as wins and losses and jerseys and goalposts.

Don't get me wrong. I love sports, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I just wonder why it can become so important, sometimes excessively important, at the expense of more important things.

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