Over The Top

We can make an idol out of anything. I have known players who have built their whole life around baseball. I had 15 “Hall of Fame” teammates over the course of my career. For some, to make the “Hall of Fame” was their ultimate goal and the guarantee of immortality. I am sure that the same is true of football, basketball, and other sports. To wear the “Championship Ring” is what life’s all about. Does it pay off? Yes, it brings handsome rewards in money and fame. At the same time, becoming obsessed with this destroys lives and distorts reality. In this article I want to examine some things that seem “over the top” in terms of reality, values and priorities.

We live in an age of exaggeration where advertising is “over the top” and everything is made to seem “bigger than life.” This applies to sports events, selling cars or almost any product you can name. Every product has to be the biggest, fastest, newest, more improved, amazing, awesome, astonishing and on and on it goes. I would like to see just one car commercial, I’m sure there must be one, that has a bit of realism connected with it. Cars fly, disappear, transform themselves, cause lightning, create tornados and just plain do all kinds of supernatural things. We are amused by babies who give financial advise, animals, birds and reptiles that talk. In this, we can surely separate fiction from reality, but my point is that advertizing often has very little to do with reality. It is designed to grab your attention, but I think I have become totally immune to all of the advertizing gimmicks. I just want to know what the product does without all the hype.
Sports Hype

I was reminded of this while watching some of the build up to the “Super Bowl” football game. I admit that I do enjoy watching football, although I personally think it is a rather brutal game, but I could do without all the hype. I have gotten to the point where I cannot listen to the average sports talk program. I appreciate the “talking heads” knowledge of the game, but they go overboard in their comments. You would think that nothing exists in the whole world as important as sports. It is definitely a money industry that is happy to accommodate millions of hungry fans. Now the football owners and players are going at one another, through the collective bargaining process, because they cannot figure out how to divide up the billions of dollars of revenue coming into the game. Some have reported that the owners are prepared to shut down football for as long as two years because they have guaranteed T.V. contracts whether they play games or not. I wonder how “Fox” feels about that? Now my head is really spinning as I try to digest all of this. Let me get this straight. Both the players and the owners rely on the fans for support, but if there is no professional football for two years, it will be alright for the fans will support the game no matter what and pack the stadiums. Really??!! Are we not talking about a form of idolatry here? Will the fans really flock to the ball parks to support players who make millions of dollars no matter what? But no one is forcing people to attend, buy the products or act in crazy ways. People do this voluntarily. It is a culture problem.

When I see fans all dressed up (or painted up) with all kinds of ridiculous outfits and yelling and screaming at every opportunity (especially if they know the camera is on them), acting like crazy fools, it does make me wonder. And have you noticed that the human body is no longer awesome unless it is covered with tattoos or fresh paint? Some can no longer feel special unless they sport a weird haircut. Natural colors are definitely out with some – it needs to be purple, orange, green or blue. And isn’t it strange that many sports activities are advertised by beer companies showing young people drinking and engaging in lewd behavior? Are we having fun yet??!! Have you noticed the dress and gyrations of the cheer leaders? Not much is left to the imagination. Oh, I can hear my critics now, “Lindy, you are so out of it!”. And somehow we condemn old time movies where the actors and actresses smoked, but what is going on now is far worse.

As a player I enjoyed the competition and playing the game, but do modern players have to celebrate after every play? I suppose this is all part of the culture in which we live. Is it my imagination, but are not sports becoming more intense and brutal every passing year? Is there no longer room for saneness, kindness and brotherly love? Does decent behavior end when we enter into the public arena? Where does it all lead? Winning is important, but have we not become obsessed with winning? Don’t tell me there is not a double standard when it comes to our successful athletes and coaches. I see coaches yelling, screaming and cursing. What level of collateral damage is acceptable? Sports can become a “high” as much as any drug. Sometimes I want to say, “Get a grip and get a life”. This is not a blanket condemnation, but you surely get the point. We need to bring sanity back to sports.

It’s not that I’m opposed to sports. Sports have their place in society. But it is this obsession that I’m concerned about. And I will tell you this, one does not have to curse and chew tobacco to be a real player. We need more good coaches who use sports to teach real values about life rather than showing how big a jerk they can become. I am not impressed with either coaches or players who believe that winning gives them the right to engage in anti-God and anti-social conduct, not that they would pay attention to anything that I might say. But it is refreshing every now and then to learn that some conduct of some super stars is even over the top with the fans, and these players have lost favor and social standing.

Where Are Our Piorities?

There are multitudes of fans who can tell you all the stats about their favorite players or teams, but cannot answer the most simple questions about the Bible. The Bible will get you to heaven and teach you how to find genuine happiness on earth, but sports only provide a bit of entertainment. The jails are full of people who have never heard of Adam and Eve or have a clue about Jesus Christ, yet they can name their favorite rock stars or athletes. The artificial world of “virtual reality”, electronics, text messaging, face book, cell phones, etc. have become the new reality. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for advancements in communication, but all of these advancements can have a ugly side if they become our masters. What have we become, as a people, when we lose sight of the things that are truly significant – God, family, friends and country?

To be honest, very few things are really awesome or fantastic. By abusing the English language it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is artificial, what is important and what is trivial. I wonder sometimes if it is not because people are so bored with ordinary life that everything has to be exaggerated. We tend to fill our lives with so much fluff and non-sense that we fail to see and understand things that are truly important and meaningful.

Some Things Are Awesome

This is not to say that some things are not awesome. I agree with David in Psalms 139:14: “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” I think that God’s creation is absolutely awesome. I have witnessed beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There is something very special about genuine friendships, and marriage as designed by God is a beautiful and wonderful thing. I am impressed by unselfish acts of kindness. I am impressed by those who are willing to tell the truth even to their own hurt. I am impressed by the dedication and sacrifice of parents who have children with major defects, mental or physical, and show us the meaning of genuine love. There are many examples of this all around. I am 75 years old, and I experience some awesome things every day. I know, without exaggeration, that Christ can do some fantastic things in our lives. Paul wrote in Eph. 3:16-21: “ 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” This language is not over the top.

Someone sent me an E-mail the other day showing the ability of super computers to collect masses of data that is truly overwhelming and impossible to conceive. It makes us feel so insignificant and meaningless. Who am I in such a vast world? Yet there is one Bible passage that brings us back to reality, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30). What an awesome God who will never lose track of us and knows all that we face. In this rather cold and impersonal world, it is good to know that we have a personal God!

I could do without all the hype about worldly things that promise much but deliver little and produce a world of delusion. If you need all this hype to find meaning in life, then what is the next level? What is the next level of sensationalism, blood and gore, weirdness, debauchery, etc.? I used to enjoy a good detective movie, but now they have to add all those terrible graphics, blood and gore, or people just won’t watch I suppose. I love good music and even enjoy “American Idol” although the title tells me more than I want to know. Even so, vulgar words are said by the judges (bleeped out of course), but everyone laughs about the well advertised bleep. I don’t know where we are headed, but it ain’t good. Call me “old fashioned” if you please!

Reminds me of Peter’s statement in 2 Pet. 2:17-19 about the peddlers of sensationalism of his day: “17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” That’s a great insight. Promising freedom but reducing men into slaves of corruption.

--- Lindy McDaniel, March 1, 2011
E-mail address: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com
Home address: 1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166.

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