The Australian Open tennis tournament is currently underway and things are already heating up…literally. Temperatures climbed to near 110 degrees Fahrenheit and the players were suffering. Players were getting sick, fainting, hallucinating, and having their shoes and water bottles melt. And what did the officials do about it? They kept the games going.
This story has led me to ask one question: Have we really reached a point where a sporting event is more important than the health and wellbeing of the players, coaches, and spectators? I asked this same question a couple of weeks ago when the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers played a football game in Green Bay when temperatures were dangerously cold. Is a game really worth that sort of risk? It would seem that to many in our world the answer to that would be yes.
I must admit that this concerns me a bit. I realize that professional sports are about more than just the games themselves. They are a business…multi-million dollar businesses. And businesses such as this make their money from the fans who come to the games. Therefore, no games means no money. I get all that. But it concerns me deeply when businesses make their money at the expense of people’s health and wellbeing.
As the pastor of a church in the Midwest, I face similar decisions regularly. We rely on the tithing of our attenders to pay our bills, fund our programs, support missionaries, and pay our staff (myself included). To cancel a worship service due to weather is a VERY difficult decision. The money that would have gone into the offering plates on that particular Sunday isn’t usually made up at a later date (at least not in full). Yet the safety and wellbeing of my congregation is far more important to me than the income that might be lost.
Professional sports do not function the same way as my church does. I know that. I know that rescheduling a major event with tens of thousands of ticket holders would be a major headache. I get that. I really do. But where is the concern for others? Whether you are Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Atheist or something else, aren’t the lives of others and their wellbeing of some importance? Have we become so disconnected from one another that we don’t even care anymore?
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I worry too much. Maybe their are factors I am unaware of. Those are all possibilities. But from where I stand, the disregard for others is concerning. The lives of the players and coaches and fans are FAR more important than whatever money may have been lost or whatever inconvenience may have been caused.