Our Infatuation with an Athlete’s Fall from Grace: A Reprise

I have a growing disappointment in the fascination and even glorification of those who fall from grace. No, I am not referring to the disappointment of the people that are falling from grace, but the attraction we as sports fans possess for those who are under scrutiny for making unwise and sinful choices.

Watch an hour long segment of ESPN Sportscenter and it is sure to be dominated about the ongoing saga of the practice of domestic violence in it’s athletes (e.g., Johnny Manzeil), deceits and cover-ups by the NFL, etc.

Sports fans … why do we put up with this kind of news reporting? Why are we enthralled by the sins of others? Why does that become the talk around the water cooler the next day? Why don’t we just skip the first fifteen minutes of a sports new show when they are reporting all this stuff? Why are we so intrigued by all of this?

The question has a number of answers, of which I will not go into now.

But I do want to say this: the American sports fan intrigue with an athlete’s fall from grace is no different than the church’s similar fascination with the falls of it’s leaders. Who among couldn’t say we are instantly curious when we read another report about the latest celebrity pastor who is surrounded by questions about his character? We all do it. Unfortunately, we are all guilty of “posterizing” falls from grace.

Could you imagine if God wrote the Bible that way? Imagine if we never heard the story about David facing off against Goliath and only about his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba? What if you opened your Bible and never read the story about Moses leading his people through the Red Sea and only his striking of the rick? What if you were having your daily quiet time and never even heard of names like Abraham or Noah or Deborah or Esther?

Sure, the Bible does have an honesty of showing us the “dark side” of our heroes, but it doesn’t revere their fall from grace. It doesn’t draw unneeded attention to it – and thus become guilt of celebrating it. And the Bible certainly doesn’t just paint it’s heroes’ falls of grace as the only thing they should be known by.

As Christians, and even sports fans, we would do our society a lot of good if we would not give attention and conversation to the athletes who are abusing their privileges to play professional sports and cheating or breaking the law. We ought to honor those to whom honor is due (Rom 13:7).

Why not talk about someone like Tony Dungy or Roger Staubach or Jason Witten or Drew Brees?

Men like them are worthy of our honor; they are worthy of our respect for their philanthropy, their mentoring or young men, their defense of the faith, etc.

Friends, don’t love a fall from grace. Give your attention and conversation to those whom God is using to bring about good in this world.


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