The Emptiness of a Championship

Don Fields left this comment on the second of three posts about the Super Bowl.

Excellent thoughts!

We cannot view any medium as “neutral.” There is always a motivation and a message and we need to be evaluating and teaching our children to be evaluating.

One thing you haven’t covered is that we should discuss the emptiness of a championship. As I watched the coverage after the game I heard much talk about Tom Coughlin, the Giants head coach, telling his players that second to family there is no feeling like winning a championship. This is a message that needs to be dealt with biblically.

Thanks, Don for raising an important consideration. As our culture’s spectacles become more elaborate, the emptiness that Don speaks of increases. I believe this indicates that the harder man searches for meaning and purpose apart from God the more futile and frustrating his search becomes.

Few professional athletes have enjoyed the level of success that Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, has had. Yet in an interview with Steve Kroft on CBS’s 60 Minutes in November of 2005, Brady said the following:

BRADY: Why do I have three Super Bowl rings, and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think: God, it’s gotta be more than this. I mean this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be. I mean I’ve done it. I’m 27. And what else is there for me?

KROFT: What’s the answer?

BRADY: I wish I knew. I wish I knew…

In fairness, in the context of the interview Brady does not appear to be as discouraged as this quote would seem to indicate. However, we do gain insight into the fleeting quality of the world’s treasures. Don mentions the emptiness of a championship. The Scriptures, too,  talk about emptiness.

“Vanity of vanities,
says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3)

Various English words are used to translate this Hebrew word which the NASB renders vanity:  some of these words are meaningless, futility, nonsense and emptiness. These fit the mood of Tom Brady’s statement, “… it’s gotta be more than this.” Remember, these words are coming from someone who has achieved at a level beyond excellence in professional football. He is personally setting the standard for others to follow. Yet we see that emptiness is one opponent that he is not able to elude.

Parents, here is a significant message for your children. Whether the ultimate prize is being first in a class at school; winning a sports championship, a gold medal at the Olympic Games, or an international piano competition; being the top sales producer—apart from living for Christ and the glory of God, life offers only emptiness. Jesus discusses the world’s treasures and championships in Luke 12. He says,

Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Isn’t it interesting how the Scripture brings the focus back to the heart? Few children will grow up to become gold medalists, either at the Olympics or at the Tchaikovsky Festival. The coach of the New York Giants is asking far too much of his team’s Super Bowl victory this year. The feeling on which he places such significance will not counterbalance the weight of sin. No championship or human recognition can bring peace and comfort from God. This is not to belittle the accomplishment of human effort. The fact that so few actually win the “gold medal” makes these victories a noteworthy human feat. Yet, as Christ tells us, these treasures are fleeting—they can be gone in an instant.

It is easy for us as parents to make human accomplishment the measure of our children. Try to see through their eyes—do they think that your appreciation of them is tied to how well they perform? Whether accomplishment is measured by GPAs, RBIs or championship trophies, it will always lead back to the theme of Ecclesiastes. Life without Christ is emptiness. Parents, are your goals for your children rooted in seeing the fruit of the Spirit grow in their lives? Or do you hold something else out for them? Why not take time to evaluate what you are actually holding out for your children as important in life.

Don, thank you for raising this issue. May we lead our children toward a life that is not empty, but is, rather, full of the richness of a close relationship with Jesus Christ.

Please let me know your thoughts on this topic.

Related resource:

The Home Team
The Home Team

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