Friday, December 16, 2011


I like sports quite a bit, especially baseball. However, I don’t typically see myself as one of those overzealous fans who talks sports, rumors, trades, and comments on every blog. Yet, I find myself writing about the sports world for the third time in a row. Ryan Braun, an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers and 2011 NL MVP has been tested positive, and confirmed for elevated synthetic steroids. In short, the random testing provided by the MLB has found Braun to have been using illegal substances which merit a 50 game suspension. Of course Braun and his lawyers are denying the findings because admissions and apologies only come when there are no other options, not as a sign of regret or remorse.

If you have the smallest understanding of baseball you understand the ‘steroid era’ which we thought we were emerging from in America’s Pastime. With tainted records, and Bonds possibly heading to jail, it seemed the MLB was cleaning up its act, until of late.

Barbara Walters did her special on the most interesting people of 2011, and on the list was New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Walters asked Jeter if it was all about how one plays the game, or if it was about winning. Jeter bluntly said it was all about winning.

Now I like winning, and I hate losing. I work hard to ‘win’ or be successful or accomplished. But winning is not everything. We live in a society that focuses so much on results that we cannot be satisfied until we have arrived at our goal. If winning or accomplishing is everything than we cause two very big problems in our lives.

The first problem we cause when winning becomes everything, is we become miserable people. If you are only happy once you have won, than the rest of your life is a drag. We only can enjoy the end and never the journey, and all of life is a journey except for the very end. Depression is climbing, along with stress and strained relationships because we do not how to enjoy who we are or who we are with unless we are “winning.” We don’t know how to be content unless our life matches what the popular media says success looks like.

The second problem this outlook has is that it throws all other morality out the window. If winning is everything, than winning becomes god, and we do whatever is necessary to serve our god. We bemoan the fact that students cheat, that teachers cheat, that politicians lie, and the rich are greedy, yet they act the same as our sports heroes who have adopted the religion of winning.

Winning is not everything. It is something, but it is not everything. We teach our children to do whatever it takes to win, and we wonder why we have the highest percentage of citizens in jail than any other civilized nation.

Jesus was very clear that life was not about winning. In fact Jesus says almost the exact opposite. In the gospels Jesus several times says if you want to be first you must be last, think about that as a competition. Jesus says, if you want to win, you must lose. The prize that we are competing for is not any earthly prize (1 Corinthians 9) it is much greater. To have this prize we don’t do whatever we can to get ahead of everyone else, we do whatever we can to put others in front of us. Winning here really is nothing (not that it’s bad to win as the Chicago Cubs should take note). Scripture is clear, God is love, and love is everything, and that means sometimes you come in last.

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