I absolutely love sports. I’ve grown up throwing, kicking, and hitting just about every ball out there. I also enjoy watching sports. I can often be found been watching a diverse selection sports, even a good curling match. The energy and excitement of competition is exhilarating. However, there are some occasions where I get a nice dose of reality from sports.
It was a huge regular season game in 2012 between two skilled teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. Not to mention, it was nationally televised on Monday Night Football. The game came down to the wire. The Seahawks had the ball with just a few seconds left and were trailing 12-7. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone. A player from both teams jumped into the air and simultaneously came down with the ball, although it seemed the Green Bay defender had a better possession of the ball. Two referees stood by, one signaled a touchdown, the other indicated an interception (touchback). After reviewing the play, the officials signaled that it was a touchdown, giving the Seahawks the victory.
The following days and even years brought a flood of anger. First of all, the majority of people thought the call was wrong. As a result, fans, gamblers, and the media began a thorough roasting of Lance Easley, the referee who signaled the touchdown. The play was even given the infamous name, “Fail Mary.” Second, it turns out the Seahawks receiver who caught the touchdown did so by cheating. Right before the ball came, he shoved another Green Bay defender in front of him to gain a better position. This blatant infraction should have been flagged and would have erased the score, giving Green Bay the victory. The violation was missed, further compounding the resentment.
Over the following months and years, all of the anger and controversy from this play started to wear on referee Lance Easley. In fact, the onslaught was so harsh that he was diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You know, the same disorder typically associated with soldiers and police officers who have had to live through the most horrendous situations on earth. Easley’s life is currently in shambles and he even admitted to suicidal thoughts.
All of this is over a game! While fun, football is a silly and ultimately unimportant game. There is no reason a man’s very existence should have been attacked and destroyed over such a call, mistake or not. Luke Easley did not deserve the backlash he has received.
It’s unlikely that anyone reading this article has been involved in the direct attack on Lance Easley. We all, however, could use a nice dose of reality about the true significance of these games. See, whether we are watching or participating, we can get caught in the thrills and emotions of these major events, sports or otherwise. We can let our feelings get the better of us and find ourselves caught up in the worries and cares of this world (Luke 4:19). We can forget that events like these are insignificant on an eternal scale (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Sometimes these events can even cause us to lose sight of the one true thing that is necessary in this life: Christ (Luke 10:41-42).
Games are just that, games. Whether we are participating, watching, or coaching, let’s keep events like these in their proper place. Let’s never put God on the bench (Luke 10:27).