What Does the Bible Say About..? Logo

What Does the Bible Say About..Sports?

What does the Bible say about sports? Would Jesus approve of the image of the athletes of today?


The Bible doesn’t say much about sports, positive or negative. The Jews generally did not participate in or support Greek sports because they were done totally nude, which violated Jewish practice. However, Paul appears to have been a fan. About all that the Bible says about sports can be found in Paul’s writings, although he applies sport to spiritual matters.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 5:7)
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Would Jesus approve of the image of athletes today? That depends, as usual, on the athlete. Brian Urlacher, who went to the University of New Mexico where I live and now plays for the Chicago Bears, is famous for his charity work. So are many other athletes in various sports. Jesus would, no doubt, approve of the image of such athletes. There are some, whom I need not name, who have bad reputations. These would probably not be approved. The point, I guess, is that Jesus would not judge a whole class by the errors of a few.