“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Matthew [6:24]


In the age of big money professional sports, we see professional athletes making millions of dollars a year, holding out for more money. We watch owners creating billion dollar enterprises. At the same time, we hear of players in their twenties complaining that they aren’t being treated properly and sometimes even refusing to play. All this while families of four can longer support the average price of close to five hundred dollars to go to a professional sporting event.

In the meantime, the TV ratings of the major sports have declined. In fact, at the last World Series viewership dropped by twenty-five percent. The NFL’s ratings have declined by double digits over the last two years. While there are many reasons for the declines, the two major reasons that stand out the most are the young millionaires complaining about their pay, when most American families struggle to pay their health care costs and wonder why these young millionaires complain about how much money they are making and social injustice.

The public relationship efforts by all the professional sports leagues has been abysmal and appears to be self-serving. These efforts miss that many of the millionaires and even the professional leagues do give back to the society that supports them. Not all the cry baby millionaires miss the point that they have been blessed. J.J. Watt, the all-star football player, doesn’t make headlines for misbehavior. Instead he raised tens of millions of dollars to help out hurricane victims. The NFL maintains a giving organization that contributes tens of millions to causes that help social justice and communities in need. Many players have their own foundations that pour money back to those in need.

These wonderful acts of service don’t make the news, good news stories don’t sell ads and as such don’t get told. People that give money prefer not to be in the spotlight. They would rather give quietly. Instead we see NFL running backs complaining they aren’t being treated properly or basketball players earning millions protesting they don’t get enough playing time. Or we see players, like Odell Beckham taking mini vacations while his team is in the middle of a playoff run.

Like all things in our society there are always two sides of the story. For professional sports, we will see the athlete’s and owners being selfish and petty with their complaints. That news we will hear about! But there are also many who give back a fair amount of their millions to society because they know they have a higher and moral need to give back.

Jesus explains this by saying we all have to decide, whom do we serve? Do we serve ourselves? Or do we serve humankind? The real answer to this question is on an individual by individual basis. Some live to be served and others live to serve. Perhaps more of our millionaires created by the their support, should consider this question harder.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Noah Silliman

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