Saturday, October 27, 2012

Keeping The Faith

I'm a Christian.  Surprised?  Well, maybe not if you've been reading this blog for some time.  I've mentioned that I work at the church where I worship.  Some conversations between my pastor and I have been recreated here.  Occasionally, I've also posted snippets of dialogue between Alan -- who's Jewish -- and myself that we've had about religion. 

Where does boxing fit in with faith?  Not long ago, I read an article -- I believe it was in The Ring magazine -- which attempted to answer how boxers reconcile their faith with the sport.  After all, Dr. Bill O'Neill of the British Medical Association was quoted as saying "It is the only sport where the intention is to inflict serious injury on your opponent."  It seems that is one of the objectives of football, rugby, mixed martial arts, hockey and wrestling, too, but I digress.  How does one adhere to  religion, which usually emphasizes living in peace and harmony with others, and justify knocking someone down in the ring?

Let me go back a little.  Boxing is mentioned in the Bible.  I wouldn't be surprised if most didn't believe that.  Alan thought I was kidding when I told him.  The verse is, "Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air."  Paul, one of the Twelve Disciples, said that.  It's in the New Testament, First Corinthians 9:26 (I used the New International Version translation).  The sport dates back to eighth century Greece, and was introduced in the Olympics in 688 BC.  So yes, when Jesus was going about his ministry on Earth, guys were competing with each other using their fists.  They were not using headgear, either. 

I am aware that one of my punches may cause someone to be laid out on the canvas.  My hands will go out to pull them up off of the canvas.  I have felt bad about the times when I have put bruises and cuts on others.  I'm the first one to ask, "Are you okay?"  I say, "I'm sorry" after dealing out a particularly rough punch, even though most coaches will say, "What in the heck are you apologizing about?"  Yes, when I have a regular match, I'm looking to take the other person out to get a win.  But it's not done with malice.  Boxing is a sport, and that is how it goes.

Might funny how participants in most other sports aren't questioned about how good of a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, etc., they are.  I've always wondered why some act as if football is the number one official sport of Christianity, for example.  Remember all the non-stop reports about Tim Tebow praying during football games?  I keep hearing about how many football players are Christians, how they credit their faith for their success, prayer circles in locker rooms and so on. 

In fact, it appears that some people of faith put down any sport that is not a team sport.  Baseball gets love from many in the Christian community, too.  Maybe boxing, as well as sports like wrestling, golf, martial arts, etc., come across as selfish.  Putting out the message that individuality and self-reliance offends some in many faiths.  Maybe that could be because most religions emphasize there is strength in numbers, and that everyone should be on the same page. 

However, such things like discipline, self-control, and doing your best which are taught in boxing, are also positive ideas taught in most religions.  Athletes are encouraged to take up clean, healthy and positive living as doing so will serve them well while they participate in their chosen sport.  Most religions teach that living right will help people in life.  So why should there be conflicts between religion and sports? 

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