When I started the 90-day Exodus program this past Ash Wednesday I knew there would be challenges. I mean cold showers? Not easy. No alcohol? Not easy. No Internet unless it’s work related? Not easy.
And while there have been many other challenges I most definitely felt tension a few weeks ago on opening day of Major League Baseball.
Opening Day is Today?
Now, believe it or not, I didn’t even know when opening day was and only learned my beloved Texas Rangers were kicking their season off when a colleague of mine mentioned it. I’ve been that “disconnected” from the sports scene.
Again, I definitely felt some anxiety when I learned that the first pitch was about to be thrown around 3:05 PM. In fact, to deal with this anxiety I decided to visit our Lord in the quiet of my beautiful parish for a Holy Hour.
And, as I sat in that quiet, extremely peaceful, church visiting our Lord I began to ponder the way I had approached sports in the past.
You see, coming clean, I’ve had a serious problem many men reading this may be able to relate to. And to explain allow me to set the scene from last year’s baseball season.
Read Daddy, Read!
It’s around 7:30 PM and I have one kid on my lap and two more beside me and we’re reading books. A lot of books! Oh, and first pitch of the Rangers game was at 7:05 PM so the game is well underway.
Now, my cell phone is strategically placed (screen down of course) on the arm of the couch I’m sitting in. And, as I finish a book I turn the phone over, unlock it, and hit refresh in order to see what’s happened since I last checked 3 minutes ago.
And, sadly, I’m not exaggerating at all. In fact, if it was a “really” important game I may even check during the middle of the book! How sad is that?
Once we were done reading books I’d then rush us through some evening prayers before kissing the kids and rushing down to the TV to assume the position. Wait, I forgot the wine. I’d definitely grab some wine and maybe some junk food if I could find any.
And, Lord have mercy, if any of my kids got out of bed they were sure to meet my wrath!
So, there I was… a fat… extremely lazy man drinking wine and eating junk food while watching the Texas Rangers play baseball until possibly midnight when it was a West Coast game.
There’s no doubt about it… I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with sports. And, unfortunately, one of the sports I love is baseball, which has 162 stinking games in their season!
Is Baseball Evil?
So, this brings us to an obvious question. Is baseball, in and of itself, evil? The answer, of course, is no. It’s not evil. Just like college football or basketball or any other sport isn’t evil.
But, what happened to me, and seems to have happened to many men I know is that we’ve placed sports on such a high pedestal our prayer and family life suffers.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I would never, ever, miss Mass for a game. But I would most definitely rush – or even skip – prayer time if a game was calling my name.
And I would most definitely sacrifice family time for sports. Sure, I’d read the books… but I wasn’t really there. I was more interested in a damn baseball game and, to be honest, it ticks me right off thinking about it.
I mean what sort of man places more importance on a stupid baseball or college football game than his own kids? I’ll tell you… me. I did. For many, many, many years.
It’s a New Day
But, thanks be to God, as a result of clearing out all of the distractions this world throws at us these past 70+ days I’ve come to realize how disordered my life has been in so many ways.
And, while we’re still sorting out the details of what our Exodus group plans to do on day 91 (and beyond) one thing is for sure… I plan to do everything in my power to never, ever, allow things like sports to come before my faith, family, work, and friends.
And, even better, my Exodus brothers know how badly I’ve struggled in this area of my life and they’re prepared to hold me accountable as I am them for the crosses they carried into this battle.
What About You?
So, what about you? Do you have an unhealthy habit of placing too much importance on your favorite sports team?
Here’s one way to assess… if you added up the time you focused on your weekly spiritual life (prayer, reading scripture, attending Mass, etc.) would it be greater than the time you invested in sports (watching games, listening to games, reading news articles, etc.) that same week?
Now, if after this assessment you come to realize you have a problem – like I did – please don’t despair. You can change. But you most likely can’t do it alone. Only God can deliver you so you must bring this problem to Him in prayer. And if you have a spiritual advisor bring it to them as well.
And, make no mistake my dear brothers in Christ, if you really want to accelerate the process seek out 3 other men and start your own Exodus group. You won’t regret it.
Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups.