The Sports Craze – A Sign of the Times

Dear Mr. Decker,
Editor of Beacon Lights:

In the recent issues of Beacon Lights the undersigned has noticed the problem of your Federation Board; i.e. the lack of interest of our young people in discussing spiritual matters at their annual conventions. Various causes for this lack of interest were brought up. Especially Mr. J. Huisken is to be commended for his well written timely article concerning the menace of television in our Protestant Reformed homes, which appeared in the March issue of Beacon Lights. The undersigned also feels that much of this lack of interest among our young people can be attributed to the ever increasing sports craze of our age. Therefore the undersigned felt it his duty to write and submit the following article for publication in Beacon Lights.

The undersigned would also like to suggest that your staff reprint an article written by our Rev. H. Hoeksema entitled, “That insane Amusement Notion,” in some future issue of Beacon Lights. Although this article appeared in the Standard Bearer of March 1, 1928 and in the Beacon Lights in June, 1944, it would not hurt to republish this gem, because it fits so perfectly with our problem today.
With Christian Greeting,
Seymour Beiboer

The Sports Craze—
A Sign of the Times

In a recent issue of the Standard Bearer the Rev. H Hanko made the following remark, “There is a terrible over-emphasis on sports in our day which is corroding the educational value of the schools.” The undersigned feels very definitely that the sports craze of our day has also much to do with the lack of interest in discussing spiritual things on the part of many of our young people, not only in their home life and in their society life; but also at their annual Young People Conventions.

In II Timothy 3:1 and 4 the Apostle Paul warns, “This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be … lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” Young people you are living in these last days. Perilous times are upon us. Oh, I need not explain how the sports craze has affected our nation in general. Just witness how millions of people go almost besides themselves when the “World Series” baseball games are played—when almost every citizen of the U.S. is watching the same thing at the same time whether seated on the grandstand, at home seated by the television screen, riding along the highway, walking down the street, shopping at the supermarket, resting in the part, or at their daily work whether it be in the factory, office, hospital, school, etc., listening to their portable transistor radios. This over-emphasis of sports these days is by no means accidental. It is one of the many devices planned and conceived by the powers of darkness that exist on this earth to lead our nation to its destruction and to lead you as covenant young people not in that straight and narrow path that leadeth to life eternal; but in that wide and broad way that leadeth to destruction. It is these same powers of darkness that controls radio and television and that fills the newsstands of our nation with all kinds of literary trash. It is these same powers that are stirring up all that strife between capital and labor, between white and Negro; and is the main cause for all the unrest and bloodshed in many parts of the world today; that is humanly speaking, of course.

The undersigned would like to ask a few questions in order to show our readers how far the sports craze has affected the lives of our covenant young people. For that matter, us older people too. The undersigned can remember that during his childhood and adolescent years, that on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day evenings a wide variety of edifying programs were held in many of the churches of Reformed persuasion in the city of Grand Rapids and that the audiences attending these programs would fill churches to their capacity in most cases. Please ask your parents, grandparents, or your minister to verify the above statement. Why is it today that these churches are dark on the above mentioned holiday evenings? Is it because there are so many football games to attend or to watch over T.V.? The next question will be directed to our young people living in the Grand Rapids area. What was your main motive behind changing the time of meeting of your Young People’s Societies from a week-day night to Sunday afternoons? Is it because some of you are afraid that you will miss a few football or basketball games? Why is it that in our high schools and colleges that the student who can throw a basketball into a hoop or who can make the most home runs or touchdowns is heralded as the student of the year; while other students who are talented in music, art, literature, public speaking, journalism, science, etc., are almost but looked down upon? In our Christian elementary schools the average child knows more about the stars of baseball, their home runs, and their batting averages than what they know about the Bible or American History. It would be very interesting if one of our Protestant Reformed grade school teachers would conduct a survey in his or her classroom (as Mr. Huisken did in regards to television. See March issue of Beacon Lights) as to what his or her pupils know about the baseball stars and whether or not these same pupils know the names of the twelve apostles or the twelve sons of Jacob, or even the three main divisions of our Heidelberg Catechism. The results of such a survey may be appalling. Also if half of the physical energy used in yelling and screaming to the top of ones voice at the ball games attended by our young people could be used in preparation for speeches, essays, Bible discussion, etc., for their Young People Societies; I am quite sure that the present problem of your Federation Board would be licked.

Young People please do not misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with a game of baseball, basketball, or whatever sport it may be. Nor is there anything wrong in having a limited program of physical education in our Christian schools. I did not ask these questions and make these remarks in order to be sarcastic or to find fault with your personal lives, your Young People’s Societies, or your annual Young Peoples Conventions. The undersigned can remember when he was a member of the Young Men’s Society of First Church some twenty years ago that we wrestled with the same problem. Only today it has reached a higher magnitude. It is because the devil and the powers of darkness have over-emphasized the sports craze to such a degree that is has made inroads into our spiritual lives.

My dear friends, the Antichrist is more and more raising up its ugly head. The time may come in your day that you will not enjoy the blessings of attending church services, catechism classes, society meetings, etc.; but you may have to worship our God in the dens and caves of the earth as did the early Christians in the first three centuries A.D. They risked their very lives when they held their services in the catacombs of Rome. Yes, dear friends, the admonition of the Apostle Paul is so true these days, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand.” Eph. 6:12, 13.

In closing I would like you to meditate on the words of the hymn that was sung by a girls sextet at the Mass Meeting of your 1964 Young Peoples Convention.

Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
And feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children;
Help those who are weak;
Forgetting in nothing
His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy,
The world rushed on;
Spend much time in secret
With Jesus alone—
By looking to Jesus,
Like Him thou shalt be;
They friends in thy conduct
His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy,
Be calm in thy soul;
Each thought and each motive
Beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit,
To fountains of love
Thou soon shall be fitted
For service above.