Sports Challenged

While loitering in a parking lot this past Sunday morning waiting for a store to open, I watched as car after car arrived at the local sports bar. Humans clad in red shirts with white numbers or white shirts with red numbers piled out and headed inside. Sports aficionado’s will immediately recognize those colors and know the team in question. I remain blithely ignorant.

A sports fan I am not, yet, I do concede that participation in various team activities offer multiple benefits including health, discipline, and collaboration to name a few. Of course the judgmental mother in me immediately wondered if they had been to any kind of church service or if they put that much care and consideration into what they wore to God’s house…if they went. I’m terrible, I know, but I did utter a prayer for them, so there.

I am constantly amazed by my female friends who know and follow teams, actively watch the game or dare I say, care. It baffles me somewhat. Shockingly, I accept Super Bowl party invitations, mostly for my poor husband’s benefit, and feel basically like an idiot at a mathematician’s symposium. I am completely out of my element and am thus reduced to grazing the appetizer table solo and chatting up the family pet. Can anyone say, L-O-S-E-R! I don’t care really. No Really, I don’t care. I am quite happy being clueless, disengaged, and focused on higher things, like the shrimp dip.

Our oldest son is immersed in sports to a level I find disconcerting. He works fulltime, plays volleyball, does private lessons as well as coaches a team, competes in three indoor soccer leagues, and works out more times in a week than I do in a month. Okay, the “working out more than I do” isn’t that impressive as an indicator; octogenarians work out more than I do. It just seems to me that he could be doing something better with his time.  Here is this good looking, single, faithful young man that seems preoccupied with the things that really don’t matter in the end… at least in my estimation.  I encounter many young men who are so immersed in sports, sporting, sport watching, triathlons, ironman’s, gaming and playing. They are chasing an elusive win, prize, or coveted title that distracts them from recognizing that these things ultimately mean nothing in the light of eternity. How many racing shirts, tournament medals or plastic idols does one need to finally arrive or be satiated?

Okay, clearly I am a mother and I want them all to seek the authentic treasure that will satisfy their true thirst and longing. Perhaps one that is life-giving; that walks and talks and sets their hearts on fire. It isn’t that my son isn’t looking; I know he is… kind of, between quarters and games, tournaments and seasons.

So what do we do when we see a fellow human being, male or female, wrapped up so tightly in a world that has little eternal worth or value? How do we convince them to let go and to desire something more worthy than the pursuit of a fleeting disposable prize?

I don’t know frankly, I was hoping you had an answer. I’m the one who doesn’t understand the attraction to any of this in the first place.

Really, I don’t care who wins the game? I would rather everyone went home happy and had a good time. Won’t mean anything in heaven anyway I imagine. Think of all the money wasted, the countless hours and miles, and hurried meals only to land in metal bleachers  freezing or frying; all for a piece of plastic that has to be dusted. Trophies didn’t help get my kids a better job, a cheaper rate on their car loans, or a discount on their insurance. They didn’t stay up with them when they were sick, console them when they lost, or tell them a funny bedtime story. Nope, they just sat there on the shelf collecting dust and holding no real substance other than faded memories.

Least I go on and incur the wrath of the NFL, NBA, NHL or AYSO I shall cease my whining.

Consider joining me at the next “sport watchers gathering”; you will find me hovering between the brownies and canapés. We can engage in conversation that doesn’t spotlight on “downs or penalties” and other terms that are irrelevant in heaven. I shall look forward to being enlightened and inspired by your witty, non-sporty, repartee.

Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at blishko_58@yahoo.com