The Image of Joy

What do you get when a set of laws are written down so that a group of people can follow them as strictly as possible? The laws even stipulate that specially appointed guardians and officials will teach and enforce the laws, and assign various degrees of penalty for breaking them. Regardless, people absolutely love both to follow the rules and also to help and encourage others to do the same. Indeed, they want to share this wealth with all nations and invite anyone who is able to participate. What do you call such a phenomenon?
Well, you could call it the books of Leviticus or Deuteronomy or just the Bible. Of course you could also call it the Olympic Games. In both cases the author(s) of all the rules had the same purpose in mind: pure, unbridled joy. Some of the more difficult rules at first seem almost arbitrary, but in the end we find they enhance the purpose of it all.
Sport is unique to the human species. All of creation follows rules and competes, but only one creature creates rules to follow…just for the fun of it. How is it such a fundamental part of our being that every two years it unites all nations?

Feature Article

The Image of Joy
Matthew Connally
The author presents sports as a source of joy and unique to humans. He draws specific connection to joy and games, such as will be seen in the 2008 Summer Olympics, as an image of joy created by God.

Classic Articles

The Games We Play
Jerry Solomon
Game-playing and competition can and should be seen as a healthy part of a life that seeks to glorify God in all things. This essay covers the following topics: Games and a Christian World View; A Brief History of Games; Games and the New Testament; Contemporary Views of Games; and Christians in a Competitive World.

Out of Control: Obnoxious Little League Parents
Chuck Colson
A few weeks ago, Michael Costin was supervising practice for his 10-year-old son's hockey team just north of Boston. During the practice, another parent, Thomas Junta, became upset at how his son was being treated. What happened next is a sign of where our culture's attitudes about parenting can lead.

Where Have All Our Heroes Gone?
Ray Cotton
We all have a need for heroes. But where do we find them in the world today? First of all, we must determine what key element determines heroism. The author chooses personal character, rather than superior performance, as the main ingredient.

Heart of An Olympian—Michelle Akers
Michelle Akers
She helped lead the U.S. team to victory in the 1991 World Championship by scoring ten goals in only six games. She helped lead her team to Olympic Gold in 1996. In 2004 she was selected by FIFA, the international soccer organization, as one of only 2 women in the top 100 living players of the century. But while many call her the greatest women's soccer player ever, you won't have to read much of Michelle's compelling story to realize that for her, there is more to life than soccer (opens on a separate site).

The Weird World of Sports
James Nuechterlein
Nuechterlein: "A life lived in a sports bar is a life ill spent. But for the great majority of us, sports provides a pleasurable interlude in life for which we not only need not repent, but for which we should offer continuing prayers of gratitude."

Related Articles

Knighthood and Biblical Manhood
Lou Whitworth
Actually, we are more indebted to the knightly virtue of chivalry than we realize. Many of the concepts and words have become part of our familiar vocabulary. It is from chivalry, for example, that we acquired the concept of the gentleman (notice the dual stress here--gentle-man) and our concepts of sportsmanship and fair play. It is perhaps no accident that the decline in chivalry parallels the rise of taunting and the "win at any price" attitude among our sports figures.

Character Deficiency Syndrome
Garry D. Nation
What causes character defects? Contemporary answers to this query usually suggest "disease" or "dysfunction" as the root cause for violence and other problems. The Bible offers a different answer. In particular, the Old Testament differentiates four stages of moral depravity.

Integrity: What's the Price?
Patrick Morley
True moral character is revealed when one is alone. Integrity, which manifests itself through honesty, is the key to good character.

Off-Site Resource

Beyond the Uultimate
Is there something great than the achievement of the ultimate goal of sports competition? Read the stories of remarkable athletes who have found what is beyond the ultimate achievement.