By now you’ve undoubtedly heard about the horrific video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious inside a casino elevator. The Ravens have terminated Rice’s contract, and the NFL has placed him on indefinite suspension.
Rice’s actions were reprehensible, and the NFL’s handling of the matter at this point has been questionable at best, and shameful at worst.
Now, what should Christians make of all this? The first thing is perhaps the hardest but certainly the most important. We should pray for Rice and his family. All of us stand in need of God’s grace, and we serve a God who can redeem anything and anyone. We serve a Savior who died for every man and woman, no matter how vile their actions or deep their deceptions. To refuse to pray is to deny these basic tenets of our faith.
And second, we should ask ourselves some long-overdue questions about how we play and watch the games we do.
The Rice story was only the latest in a never-ending series of tales that are more apt for “America’s Most Wanted” than Monday Night Football. Scarcely a fortnight goes by when we don’t read about an NFL player—or in the case of the Indianapolis Colts, an owner—being arrested for serious offenses that would land most ordinary Americans behind bars.
And then there’s the concussion issue. It’s become clear that the people we watch on Saturdays and Sundays are, like other athletes in a handful of other sports, taking serious risks with their long-term health.
And yet we choose not to see these things as we continue to watch our games.
Bill Simmons of ESPN summed up the attitude of most fans when he wrote that, despite what’s going on off the field, “we care [about the NFL] just as much as we always did. [And] We look the other way as much as we always did.”
We might say, in fact, that Americans suffer from an epidemic of not looking.
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