Sport Principle 9: What’s it all for?

About the Sport Principle: Life in the Olympic village:

This year, the Olympics will be very different. Due to the global pandemic, there will be no international spectators and the competitors themselves will be in and out of the village, only permitted to stick around for the duration of their event. But perhaps this won’t be as bad as it seems to the observer. In spite of the media portrayal of a party atmosphere life in the village, the athletes tell a different story. For some of them, theirs is a story of depression and suicidal thoughts. And it doesn’t seem to make much difference whether the individual has won or lost. It’s easy to see how the Olympic Games’ many losers could conclude that their entire life’s efforts have gone to waste, as they struggle to come to terms with their own disappointment and the weight of expectation of their families, coaching staff and sponsors etc. But the research suggests that the feeling is the same win or lose, and even many Olympic champions feel a crushing sense of hopelessness following the games. Conclusions drawn from this research include pointing to the fact that human beings are wired to constantly improve and so an Olympic gold medallist has no way to improve on his performance and therefore struggles to cope. But perhaps there is more to it than this.

Application to Life

I recently read a great Christian blog that stated that ‘gratitude is a free antidepressant.’ As true as this sentiment is, if it’s expressed flippantly, we run the risk of minimising the seriousness of this disease of the mind, that is itself running to global pandemic proportions, and especially affecting the lives of younger men, Olympians or not. We all need to live for a purpose that is higher than winning Olympic gold. And we can all thank God, without being in the slightest way flippant, that there is one: 2000 years ago, God sent His Son on a rescue mission to save us all, depopulate Hell and establish His eternal Kingdom – yes, as something to look forward to in the future (heaven when we die) but in a real sense to enjoy now, this side of eternity. To coin the phrase, perhaps overused in my part of the church as I was growing up: “Christianity isn’t just pie in the sky when you die, but steak on your plate while you wait!” But the greatest thing of all is that we get to be a part of this great rescue mission to point others to the only one who can make any sense at all of this often otherwise meaningless life. 3000 years ago, King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, had it nailed when he said: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14. And all of these meaningless things under the sun include Olympic gold medals, and ultimately anything else outside of Jesus and His Kingdom that we make the main aim of our life. May we commit ourselves to reorient our lives towards our Creator, be grateful to Him for His gift beyond words, His precious Son, and be kind to ourselves and those around us as we partner with Him to devote our lives to drawing others in to the greatest story ever told.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

Image Credit: Martin Sanchez