Each different week in The Coach’s Field, Timothy Thomas explores the varied classes that may be realized from the world of sports activities.
I grew up in Central Texas within the ‘90s, raised by dad and mom from Maryland. In our home, we rooted for the then-Washington Redskins, now Commanders. I had no different cause to be a fan of Washington aside from that’s who my household rooted for. After Baltimore launched a brand new NFL franchise in 1996—the Baltimore Colts had packed up in the course of the night time and moved to Indianapolis again in 1984—we additionally rooted for the Ravens.
Yearly for the reason that Ravens’ inaugural season, they’ve change into more and more related, successful two Tremendous Bowls in 20 years. Washington, nevertheless, has grown much less related, mired in scandals and controversies within the group’s entrance workplace that has affected on-the-field motion and personnel choices.
After Washington botched quarterback Robert Griffin III’s profession in 2015, I made a decision that my fan allegiance would go completely to the Baltimore Ravens. I turned in my resignation letter as a Washington fan, a minimum of till Dan Snyder was not the franchise proprietor. Now that Snyder is reportedly promoting the crew, I—together with many others—have a choice to make.
I’m nonetheless flying with the Ravens, regardless, however earlier than I make my resolution for or in opposition to the Commanders, I’ve a query for you, expensive reader: Can a real fan resolve to drop a crew or participant like I’ve? Is a real fan somebody who sticks with a corporation irrespective of how morally and ethically bankrupt that group has change into? Are we even asking the query appropriately?
I pose these seemingly trivial questions as a result of how we reply them can have an effect on how we work together in our communities. Some individuals take fandom very severely. An individual’s willingness to stay with a crew via a long time of heartbreak communicates their loyalty, which signifies their trustworthiness. Alternatively, a “truthful climate” fan who hops on the most popular groups after they’re doing effectively and abandons them after they’re not is seen as disloyal and probably untrustworthy.
However what concerning the individuals within the center who’re keen to stay with a crew via heartbreak but in addition select to make use of capitalism and the free market to indicate their distaste for crew possession when adjustments must occur? If followers cease attending and watching video games, buying merchandise, and so forth., are they disloyal and untrustworthy? Or are they merely utilizing these means to speak “this may and needs to be higher?”
Now I take a tough pivot to faith and our state right here in America. Although true Christianity shouldn’t be downgraded to the equal of sports activities fandom, how we strategy trivial issues can generally bleed over into our beliefs regarding a lot weightier points. So I pose comparable questions relating to the “Christianity of the Land” versus the “Christianity of Christ.”
As Frederick Douglass places it, Christianity of the Land “regards faith merely as a type of worship, an empty ceremony…A worship that may be carried out by individuals who refuse to provide shelter to the houseless, to provide bread to the hungry, clothes to the bare.”
The Christianity of Christ, in accordance with Douglass, is at direct odds with the Christianity of the Land. “To be the good friend of the one is of necessity to be the enemy of the opposite,” Douglass states. The Christianity of Christ is “pure, peaceful, and neutral” whereas the Christianity of the Land is “corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial, and hypocritical.”
So can trustworthy followers of Jesus (not followers) flip away from church buildings working towards the Christianity of the Land? Are they disloyal for dropping their help of a denomination or pastor who—like these evangelical leaders who supported the unbiblical values of Trump’s presidency—constantly fail to like our neighbors as Jesus beloved as a result of they’re in love with their very own cultural energy as a substitute? Or do the actual followers stick it out and undergo in these congregations and organizations whereas being gentle and loving to those that are ignorant, hoping that they may see the Christianity of Christ?
See, I advised you this was a tough pivot. Sure, that is about sports activities, nevertheless it’s about Jesus, as effectively. There aren’t any simple solutions, however they are often consequential in how we work together with others within the circles of our communities.
As a result of we purpose to do every little thing unto the glory of God, how we worship and what crew we root for will be equally consequential to our witness. The purpose in both circumstance is to share the love, grace, mercy, kindness, and fact of Jesus with our communities, whether or not carrying the identical jerseys or taking one off within the hope of loving individuals like Jesus did.
So I ask you once more: What makes a real fan? Who’s a trustworthy follower?