What are the benefits?
Playing sports can contribute to good health. The Bible acknowledges that “physical exercise is beneficial.” (1 Timothy 4:8, footnote) “Playing sports is a great way to stay active,” says a young man named Ryan. “It’s a lot better than staying inside playing video games.”
Playing sports can promote teamwork and self-discipline. The Bible uses an illustration based on a sport to teach a positive point. It says: “The runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize.” It then states: “Everyone competing in a contest exercises self-control in all things.” (1 Corinthians 9:24, 25) The point? It takes self-control and cooperation to play by the rules of a sport. A teenager named Abigail agrees. She says, “Playing sports has taught me how to cooperate and communicate with others.”
Playing sports can build friendships. A game brings people together. “Nearly all games involve some type of competition,” says a young man named Jordan, “but if you keep it about having fun, playing sports is a great way to connect with friends.”
What are the pitfalls?
What you play. The Bible says: “Jehovah examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one; He hates anyone who loves violence.”—Psalm 11:5.
Some sports are clearly violent. For example, a young woman named Lauren observes: “The whole point of boxing is to beat up the other guy. As Christians, we refrain from fighting, so why would we allow ourselves to be entertained by watching others get knocked around?”
To think about: Have you allowed yourself to justify playing or watching violent sports, thinking it will not make you commit violent acts? If so, remember that Psalm 11:5 says that Jehovah disapproves of the person who “loves violence,” not just the person who practices it.
How you play. The Bible says: “Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you.”—Philippians 2:3.
Of course, any activity involving opposing teams will include a degree of competition. But a win-at-all-costs attitude will only take the fun out of the game. “A competitive spirit can quickly overtake you,” says a teenager named Brian. “The better you are at sports, the more you have to work on humility.”
To think about: A young man named Chris admits, “We play soccer each week, and there have been injuries.” So ask yourself, ‘What factors can make injuries more likely to occur? What can I do to minimize the risk of injury?’
How much you play. The Bible says: “Make sure of the more important things.”—Philippians 1:10.
You need to set your priorities; spiritual things should come first. Most games can last several hours, whether you are playing or just watching. “I used to have conflicts with my mom over how much time I spent watching games on TV when that time could have been better spent,” says a young woman named Daria.
To think about: Do you listen when your parents offer advice about your priorities? A young woman named Trina says: “When my siblings and I used to watch sports and neglect important duties, my mom would remind us that the players were getting paid whether we watched them or not. ‘But who’s paying you?’ she would ask us. What she meant was this: The players already have a job. But if we were to slack off on our homework and other responsibilities, we wouldn’t be able to support ourselves in the future. Basically, mom was telling us that watching or playing sports should not be the most important thing in our life.”