Is Sport a Religion?
by Rabbi Aron Moss
I wanted to ask you for your opinion on the topic of sport and G-d. My husband is quickly losing his faith in G-d due to his team not winning. Every time his team loses, he loses his faith more and more. I want to try and give him a way of looking at it differently and rather than blaming G-d for another losing game, blaming the players, and perhaps just watching less sport???
How about telling him this. It is not a rational reaction to lose faith because your team is losing. Rather than switch beliefs, it would make more sense to switch teams.
After all, surely fans on both sides of any game are praying for their team to win. Only one of those prayers can be answered affirmatively. If yours is losing, it doesn't mean
G-d isn't there, just maybe He is on the other side. So if G-d is with them, shouldn't you be too?
This argument will of course have absolutely no effect on him. I can't imagine a real sports fan exchanging loyalties just because his team keeps losing. Well, that's what having faith means. No matter what happens, we only have one G-d, and we stick with Him. In fact, the very word for faith in Hebrew is Emunah, which actually means loyalty. Just like a fan never switches sides no matter what, a believer is loyal to G-d come what may.
In a way, it is wonderful that the biggest tragedy in his life is his team losing. May it always be that way. But he needs to maintain perspective and disentangle his faith from his fanhood. Sport is recreation, diversion, relaxation, entertainment. If it is bringing such angst and frustration, it is not serving its purpose. Sport is about playing, not praying.
I don't know if you will succeed in convincing him to watch less sport. But maybe he can become less invested in it. His emotional and spiritual energies should be saved for his real team, the team that truly needs him - his family, his community, his people and his G-d.