Give thanks to God, but not for American tackle football


Today is the national holiday in the USA called Thanksgiving. And despite certain claims, its specific origins are not pagan. But, of course, no Christian needs to celebrate national holidays like it if they do not wish to (cf. Romans 14). And the Bible does condemn gluttony.

Yet, whether on this day or others, the Bible teaches that people should give thanks:

4 Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name (Psalm 30:4).

The Bible is full of admonitions to give thanks to God. The New King James Version of the Bible has the word ‘thank’ 25 times, ‘thanks’ 75 times, ‘thankful’ 3 times, and ‘thanksgiving’ 32 times. It also has the word ‘praise’ 237 times and ‘praises’ 11 times.

One thing that I have noticed on the day called Thanksgiving by those in the USA, is when I have been at many other places than the home I lived in, American football has been playing on television.

For many, other than food and family, football is a major focus of the Thanksgiving holiday.

When I was posting a video on YouTube several weeks ago on giving thanks (watch Ingratitude and Giving Thanks), apparently because it mentioned ‘giving thanks,’ YouTube suggested that a ‘key word’ for the video should be ‘American football’ (which was not in the description).

Notice the following related to former US President Barack Obama:

Nov 22, 2012

For the fourth straight year, the Thanksgiving resolution from President Barack Obama fails to actually thank God — which is the fundamental reason why Thanksgiving is observed…

But, to President Obama, Thanksgiving is about food and football, according to his official remarks as distributed by the White House.

“For us, like so many of you, this is a day full of family and friends; food and football. It’s a day to fight the overwhelming urge to take a nap – at least until after dinner,” Obama said.

Should Christians support violent sports like American football?

A 1969 article by Eugene M. Walker put out by the old Worldwide Church of God had the following:

To many Americans Thanksgiving Day means sumptuous turkey dinners, family reunions and football games…There is nothing necessarily wrong with good food, family reunions…on Thanksgiving Day. But all too many use these activities wrongly and forget the purpose for the holiday. Many glut themselves with far more food than they ought to eat; few, however, stop to give God thanks for this food – even on Thanksgiving Day. Family reunions all too often turn out to be family brawls…Millions of others push and shove one another in large crowds at football games and parades, and kill one another on the highway as they madly strive to make sure they get their fair quota of pleasure. (Walker EM. Plain Truth, Thanksgiving Day: What does it mean to you? November 1969, pp. 39-41).

Notice he wrote that certain activities were not necessarily wrong. Of course, a friendly game of flag football and a family dinner should be fine. But what about violent professional or intercollegiate American football?

Over a decade later, the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

Hostility toward the other is sin…

Football (American football) is a violent body-contact sport. It is often played with an attitude of hostility and is dangerous and is fraught with physical injury. (Plain Truth, July-August 1984)

Wherever a game in sports involves ANTAGONISTS–in HOSTILE ATTITUDE to harm the other and/or to “GET” from the other–to get the best of the other–then a harmful, Satanic and evil attitude enters in , and the sport is EVIL, not good…football,

(American football)…because football is such a violent body contact sport , it TOO OFTEN is played in an ATTITUDE OF HOSTILITY, and is too DANGEROUS and fraught with PHYSICAL INJURY . Therefore it must be BANNED so far as participation by God’s Church or people is concerned…This is sufficient to illustrate the application of the PRINCIPLE of God’s Law to sports. That participated in with an attitude of HOSTILITY toward the opponent is evil. That which HARMS mentally or physically an opponent is evil.

Satan is the author of COMPETITION based on hostility, harm to the opponent, GETTING by taking FROM an opponent–to his harm or loss. God’s way is LOVE TOWARD neighbor equal to love of self. (Armstrong HW. Not all sports are banned. Pastor General’s Report, Volume 2, Issue 36, September 5, 1980)

While I have even heard some people thank God for football, it is not a sport that I believe that the God of love would condone.

The person that Jesus stated was greater than all others born of women (Matthew 11:11), John the Baptist taught:

14 Do violence to no man (Luke 3:14, KJV)

The Apostle Paul taught:

Love does no harm to a neighbor (Romans 13:9).

What do sports like American football and boxing do? They harm people. Even if played according to all of their rules, American tackle football is evil because it actually physically harms many of its participants:

Doctor says letting kids play football should be considered child abuse

November 20, 2017

Dr. Bennet Omalu told Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein no one under the age of 18 should play football. But one local doctor and leaders of Metro Atlanta’s Pop Warner league say steps can be taken to protect children against brain injuries on the football field.

Hard hits are a part of football.

“I like playing football because of the hitting,” said 10-year-old Antrell Matthews, who plays for the Henry County Mustangs.

Hard hits to the head can lead to brain injuries including concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The symptoms of CTE are severe.

CTE is a degenerative condition linked to repeated head injuries. It is only diagnosed after death by studying the brain.

“Diminished intelligence, inability to control your moods, your emotions, your temper,” said Dr. Omalu.

November 23, 2016

This past Monday, 26 retired Florida football players sued the NFL and demanded the league give them workers’ compensation. The players say the league hid the fact that repeated concussions cause a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), in which a person’s brain wastes away until he or she dies. In all, 141 retired players filed suit, but only 38 are named.

In the suit, the players compare the NFL to a group of tobacco executives, desperately shoving bad information under the rug as increasingly frightening concussion science came to light.

The NFL “routinely failed to care for Plaintiffs’ repetitive head injuries during their careers in any medically competent or meaningful manner that complied with any known published contact sports return-to-play guidelines at the time in which the injuries occurred,” the suit says.

Studies show players who live through multiple concussions and blows to the head often develop a fatal disease in which the brain wastes away, causing severe memory loss and confusion. Multiple investigations have shown the NFL knowingly hid the risk of CTE from its players, and in 2015, the NFL agreed to pay retirees more than $1 billion for CTE-related medical claims. But players say that since that decision came down, science has shown the NFL should be taking care of even more players.

The most popular sport in America causes irreparable harm to many of its participants, some of whom will stammer through sentences after they retire, lose their memories and have their dinners served to them through intravenous needles…If they’re modern-day gladiators, we’re little more than howling, new-millennium Romans — with better-stitched togas and viewing angles. Now armed with more information than ever about football and brain injuries, we think long and hard whether our kids should strap on a helmet and pads. (Wise M. Super Bowl: NFL confronts the highest stakes. Washington Post, January 28, 2013.

The NFL doesn’t have a PR problem. It has a reality problem. And it may be a grave one. Every month — and it seems every few days — the NFL is inundated by new, barely suspected revelations. What has the NFL become? Or is this what it has been for some time? Is the truth coming out of the shadows? The list is stunning. Its cumulative effect, not any one particular item, is the true confidence-shaking shock. The NFL is now the league of murder charges against Aaron Hernandez — gang execution style. The NFL is the league of murder, then suicide, with Jovan Belcher killing his girlfriend and then shooting himself in the head in a parking lot by his stadium as his coach and general manager watched. The NFL is the league of concussions, cover-ups for decades and in-house pseudo-science to discredit critical research. That is, until dementia, insanity and a $765 million settlement with its players hits the headlines. The NFL is a “League of Denial.” (November 6, 2013)

It would be wonderful if we could make the game safer, but there is far too much satisfaction as a player, owner, coach and consumer to quit. And there is no substitute “patch” for American football.

We are all too selfish to stop.

We now know, or highly suspect, that former players such as Dave Duerson and Junior Seau killed themselves due somewhat to the problems related to the brain trauma suffered in their long careers. We care, but not enough to stop…

You can disagree on the origins or the severity, but what is indisputable is that there is a far greater risk in playing football than we have ever been previously aware…The concussion issue in football is not only genuine, but it is never going away. Studies, and prevailing common sense, say that if you run into something continually at a high speed, eventually your body, and brain, will suffer as a result.

Research conducted on almost 100 deceased NFL players revealed that over 95 percent of them tested positive for the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

September 18, 2015

Research conducted on almost 100 deceased NFL players revealed that over 95 percent of them tested positive for the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

In a study published by Frontline on Friday, a total of 87 out of 91 players were found to have the disease. The CTE research was carried out by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University.

The chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System, Dr. Ann McKee, told Frontline that CTE is a “very real disease.”

“People think that we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it,” McKee said. “My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players.”

Although research had suggested that concussions were one of the likely causes of CTE, new evidence suggests that “minor head trauma that occurs regularly in football may pose” a greater risk than the occasional violent collision.

The truth about the harm the sport causes is something that professing Christians, and others, who think that they should watch American football should think about.

Christians should give God thanks (watch Thanksgiving and Prayer), but not encourage violence in sports like American tackle football.

There is also a YouTube video available titled Should Christians watch American football?

To close, perhaps I should mention that we do not ‘add a day’ to God’s holy days if we somehow observe Thanksgiving or other national holidays. National observances are NOT holy days, nor does anyone have to keep them. Jesus, however, observed at least one (cf. (John 10:22-23), setting an example that we can if we so choose. But not through encouraging violence.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Thanksgiving: Can Christians keep it? Is this American holiday appropriate? Why or why not? Two sermons related to giving thanks are also available: Thanksgiving and Prayer and Ingratitude and Giving Thanks.
Giving Thanks Are Christians supposed to give thanks? Why? Is unthankfulness warned against? Two sermons related to giving thanks are also available: Thanksgiving and Prayer and Ingratitude and Giving Thanks.
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians? A related sermon would be: Christians, Violence, and Military Service.
Is American Football Evil? Is the most popular spectator sport in the USA something that Christians should watch? What do the Bible and early writings show? There is also a YouTube video available titled Should Christians watch American football?
Alcohol: Blessing or Curse? This is an article from the old Good News magazine that attempts to answer this question.
Binge Drinking, Health, and the Bible Many college students and others overindulge in alcohol. Are there health risks? What does the Bible teach? A related video is also available: Binge Drinking and the Bible.
Obesity, processed foods, health risks, and the Bible Does the Bible warn about the consequences of being obese? Is overeating dangerous? Is gluttony condemned? What diseases are associated with eating too much refined foods? A related video would be Eating Right, Eating Too Much, and Prophecy.

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