Self Sacrifice in Sports

So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

  • Genesis 46:1-4

I could have copied the Scripture from Romans 12 about being a living sacrifice, but I only want to get spiritual in that there are parallels in sport.

The Tour de France ended yesterday to much fanfare.  Jonas Vingegaard from Denmark, riding for the Netherlands team Jumbo-Visma, won the overall Tour de France.  His teammate, Wout van Aert from Germany, won the sprinter division.  But Tiesj Benoot (Belgium), Sepp Kuss (USA), and Christophe Laporte (France) were also part of the team, helping the winning members of the team to the front so that they could win.

But for these races, the overall, the sprint, the climber, all won by the work of the peloton, that huge mass of cyclists that seem to play “follow the leader.”

If you watch the action near the front of the peloton, the leader of the peloton will drift to one side and the next cyclist will take the lead.  This is especially noticeable when there is a breakaway.  The leader takes the brunt of the wind, while those behind follow in his wake, not expending as much energy.  The same thing happens in the peloton.  The peloton is a living thing that allows various cyclists to sacrifice their strength for the good of that one on the team that can possibly win the overall race.  Each team expends the majority of their energy providing a shield so that their best chance for winning the race is well-rested for the surge near the end.  Only the occasional time trials have each cyclist racing on their own.

But nobody remembers the other members of the team.  They remember the person in the yellow jersey, the person that won.  Or for the sprinters, the green jersey.  Or for the climbers, the white jersey with red polka dots.

When a team works together for the sake of the one, they can be successful.

But this sacrifice of self is found in many sports.  American football has offensive linemen that sacrifice their bodies on each play so that the person carrying the ball can advance the ball down field.  An old story from my alma mater was that the star of the team was not doing well the next year.  In the off-season, the boosters (before schools were penalized for doing such things) had bought the star a new luxury car.  Then the star could hardly do anything the next year.  When an offensive lineman was asked what the problem was, his reply was, “Have the luxury car block for him.”  My point is without that sacrifice, the team does not do well.

I have been given the signal in baseball to provide a sacrifice bunt.  While I am called out, the player that is already on base can move into scoring position.

In basketball, a common play is the pick and roll.  One player stands in the path of the defender.  The player with the ball rolls around the person standing.  When done correctly, this gives the person with the ball separation from the defender to make a clean shot at the basket.

In Christianity, it is One who has sacrificed for all who believe.  It is odd that so many people have such angry arguments that one person sacrificing for another is too good to be true, but it happens all the time.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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