Sports, Fantasy and Reality

Being a sports fan is an up and down business… more down than up if you’re an Arsenal fan at the moment… but I won’t rub salt into the gaping wound there… It's even more complicated if you participate in the myriad "fantasy" competitions out there, where you can end up wanting your team to win but not by too much, incase any of your fantasy players incur too many points against them. I'm currently registered with 6 different fantasy leagues - four football (that is real football for all you American readers out there... you know, the sort played with your feet!) and 2 World Cup Rugby ones. However, things have been so busy lately I haven't had time to look next nor near them, except to register the fact that I was effectively bottom in all of them.
However, until Sunday it was a good weekend, for me… Ulster won convincingly against Cardiff in the rain on Friday night… Then Saturday morning Ireland put all their fans through the wringer as they won a close encounter with the Aussies in the World Cup… and Glentoran beat Carrick Rangers by a rugby score that afternoon, despite having a player sent off… I was even doing well in my various fantasy sporting endeavours...
Everything was fine until I mentioned on Downtown Radion on Sunday morning that hopefully Liverpool would beat Spurs that afternoon to make my joy complete… I did have to ope my big mouth didn't I...
But even before that, the much misquoted words of former Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly had already come to mind, as I saw the result of the Swansea v West Brom match on Saturday afternoon… Shankly is famous for saying, with his tongue firmly in his cheek, that football is not a matter of life and death, its more important than that… And Swansea’s 3-nil victory this weekend proved that is nonsense… It may be their first ever Premier League victory, but it will mean very little to many of their fans who have been shattered by the loss of the 4 miners in the Gleision Mine disaster just up the road… This follows on the deaths at the beginning of the year of the 29 workers who were killed in the Pike River Mine disaster in New Zealand… And reminds us that, despite the almost miraculous rescue of the 33 Chilean miners little over a year ago, such employment is still enormously dangerous.

It should also make us wary of directly attributing God’s hand to such events… Were the Chilean miners more deserving of rescue than the New Zealand or Welsh ones? Where was God in those events?

He was where he always is. With us in joy and sorrow, in life and death.

The Psalmist says:

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139: 8-12

I pray that those who have lost loved ones in the Gleision Disaster or in any other, non-headline-grabbing, way will know the light of God’s love shining on them… and that you, wherever you feel yourself to be – whether you are on top of the world… or the depths of despair that you will know that God is with you and will never let you go.

An adapted version of my "Review of the Week" for Dawn Reflections on Downtown Radio 18/9/2011


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