In July of 2019, it was reported that in the same week, two boxers died as a result of the injuries they sustained in boxing matches. We put an article together addressing the tragic news which can be read here https://www.prophesyagain.org/single-post/2019/07/27/Two-Boxers-Die-in-One-Week-From-Injuries-Sustained-in-the-Boxing-Ring-Christians-and-Sports. Roughly three months later, the boxing world is mourning another death due to brain injuries from a boxing match. “Four days after being knocked unconscious in a super welterweight title fight, Patrick Day, a former New York Golden Gloves champion and Long Island native, died on Wednesday. Day, 27, had been in a coma since Saturday night, when he fell to the canvas and hit his head after his opponent, Charles Conwell, a 2016 Olympian, landed several blows in the 10th and final round of their U.S.B.A. fight in Chicago. His death was announced by Lou DiBella, the promoter for both Day and Conwell.” What a tremendous loss, a life cut short in its prime, pursuing an object not worthy of the sacrifice. Yet, how many will heed the warning? How many people have to die for individuals to stop watching, supporting and participating in not only boxing, but all sports, violent and nonviolent alike. Sadly, not many.
History and the present show that boxing deaths and other sports-related deaths are not uncommon, yet sports continue to gain popularity and bring in more revenue every year. So common are boxing deaths, that an entire webpage is devoted to chronicling them, not even considering the myriad of individuals that have long-lasting health impairments including brain damage and other diseases due to their careers in boxing and other sports. What grief this must cause our Creator, who created man to reflect his image, to see his children jeopardizing and sacrificing their lives for earthly recognition, a corruptible crown. Like the ancient Greek games, “Great risks were run in these contests; it was not unusual for one of the contestants to drop dead as he was about to seize the prize in triumph. But this was not considered too great a risk to run for the sake of the honor awarded to the conqueror.”
How is it that Christians condone, support and often participate in such violent sports as boxing, mixed martial arts and sports in general. For some it is ignorance, for others it is entertainment and selfish gratification. The Bible is clear in
1 Corinthians 3:16 and 17 and 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 20 that we are not our own, we belong to Christ and our bodies are the temple of God. No sensible person would ever go into a literal temple or church and violently vandalize it or support those who do by cheering and paying to see it done. Yet how many buy highly-priced tickets or watch pay-per view to witness people bludgeon and beat each other all the while screaming in delight as one opponent knocks the other one out. Satan delights in the destruction of God’s purchased possessions and he will use any means to accomplish this. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” John 10:10. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.
For this reason, Satan has invented sports: to prematurely end the lives of those engaged in them; and if they do not die he wants to inflict as much pain and long-term suffering as possible. “Satan has devised a multitude of ways in which to keep men from serving God. He has invented sports and games, into which men enter with such intensity that one would suppose a crown of life was to reward the winner. At the horse races and football matches, which are attended by thousands and thousands of people, lives for which Christ shed His blood are thrown away. What will become of the souls of the men and boys whose lives are thus extinguished? Will they be counted worthy of the redemption which Christ died to secure for them?
Consider how the ones responsible for causing the deaths of their opponents feel afterward. Perhaps some feel remorseful and abruptly retire from the sport, while others may have become so callous that they consider it the nature of the sport and continue. Consider also the last thought of the victim before his/her life ended in competition. Was it not to defeat his/her opponent and receive the prize and adoration? Did such persons die with Christ on their minds? Did they have an opportunity to confess their sins to Christ? Of all who died outside of Christ, when they arise in the second resurrection their thoughts will resume just where they ceased. What a sobering thought! Speaking of the second resurrection, Ellen White writes, “There are kings and generals who conquered nations, valiant men who never lost a battle, proud, ambitious warriors whose approach made kingdoms tremble. In death these experienced no change. As they come up from the grave, they resume the current of their thoughts just where it ceased. They are actuated by the same desire to conquer that ruled them when they fell.”
Among those looking for the Second Coming of Jesus, sports of all kinds, violent and nonviolent, will be wholly dispensed with, along with any form of competition. Strife, emulation and competition are strictly prohibited in the word of God as they are fruits of selfishness and not fruits of the spirit (see 2 Corinthians 10:12, Galatians 5:19-20; Philippians 2:3 and 4). We will not even here address the issue of stewardship of time, energy and means expended in pursuit of sports endeavors. Engaging in sports does not glorify God, it glorifies self, promotes pride, selfishness, obsessiveness, aggression/anger and idleness. As former participants in sports ourselves, we are speaking from first hand experience. Please prayerfully consider and heed the following counsels given regarding sports.
“Some of the most popular amusements, such as football and boxing, have become schools of brutality. They are developing the same characteristics as did the games of ancient Rome. The love of domination, the pride in mere brute force, the reckless disregard of life, are exerting upon the youth a power to demoralize that is appalling. Other athletic games, though not so brutalizing, are scarcely less objectionable because of the excess to which they are carried. They stimulate the love of pleasure and excitement, thus fostering a distaste for useful labor, a disposition to shun practical duties and responsibilities. They tend to destroy a relish for life's sober realities and its tranquil enjoyments. Thus the door is opened to dissipation and lawlessness with their terrible results.”
“The public feeling is that manual labor is degrading, yet men may exert themselves as much as they choose at cricket, baseball, or in pugilistic contests, without being regarded as degraded. Satan is delighted when he sees human beings using their physical and mental powers in that which does not educate, which is not useful, which does not help them to be a blessing to those who need their help. While the youth are becoming expert in games that are of no real value to themselves or to others, Satan is playing the game of life for their souls, taking from them the talents that God has given them, and placing in their stead his own evil attributes. It is his effort to lead men to ignore God. He seeks to engross and absorb the mind so completely that God will find no place in the thoughts. He does not wish people to have a knowledge of their Maker, and he is well pleased if he can set in operation games and theatrical performances that will so confuse the senses of the youth that God and heaven will be forgotten.”
“I have not been able to find one instance where he [Jesus] educated his disciples to engage in amusement of football or pugilistic games, to obtain physical exercise, or in theatrical performances; and yet Christ was our pattern in all things.”
Oh what a solemn thought if probation should close, and God’s people were engaged in the very act of competing to “be the best” or to win a corruptible crown or if they found themselves engrossed in watching other people endanger their health and lives in sports. Would such individuals be sealed for heaven? Please dear reader, ask God to give you a distaste for sports and anything else that dishonors God so that we can glorify God in our bodies which are his possession.
White, Ellen. Sketches From the Life of Paul (1883), 164
White, Ellen. The Review and Herald, September 10, 1901, paragraph 5
White, Ellen. The Great Controversy (1911), page 664
White, Ellen. The Adventist Home (1952), page 500.
White, Ellen. Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students (1913), page 274
White, Ellen. Special Testimonies on Education (1897), page 191