The great pastime of America throughout the years has been sports. Americans have been ingenious in turning something simple into a sport for everyone to enjoy. I must say I have enjoyed my share of sports.
When younger, I was a baseball fan. I went to as many games as possible. The Stadium in Baltimore was just a few minutes from my house so I could visit it often, and I often did. I did not really care who won the game as long as it was a good game played, not to mention the hotdogs.
The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage accused me of going to ball games just to eat hotdogs. Whenever I would return from a ballgame the first question would be not who won the game, but “How many hotdogs did you eat?”
If the truth was known, and you will not get it from me, many a hotdog sacrificed itself at a ballgame. After all, when you are watching a ballgame, who has time to keep track of how many hotdogs you are eating?
I did have a moment of anxiety once when my wife threatened to weigh me before the game and then weigh me after the game to see if I had eaten too many hotdogs. When she first mentioned it I laughed, but I noticed she was not laughing, which caused me some deep concern.
Fortunately, for me it never got to that, but came perilously close.
Nothing is more relaxing on a Saturday afternoon than sitting in a ballpark watching a ballgame in progress. Somehow, all the cares of the world seem to flutter away while watching the game.
It all ended for me one summer.
I had come into the house from some chore and my wife greeted me by saying, “Do you know your ball team is on strike?”
I looked at her, laughed and said, “I know. They get three strikes and then they’re out. That’s the way they play the game.” I winked at her and laughed good-naturedly. “Finally,” I said to her, “you’re coming to understand what the game is all about.”
“No, you don’t understand. Your team is on strike.”
“I get you, and this Saturday I’m going to go and watch them strike again.”
It took me a while but finally my wife got through the thickness of my skull and got me to understand the strike she was talking about was not the strike I was talking about. It is always nice when people are on the same page.
In a marriage situation, the biggest challenge a couple has is staying on the same page. Even though the husband and wife might be reading the same book, for some reason wives have the ability to read three or four chapters ahead. When a husband tries to correct her she impatiently says, “We were on that page last week. Try to keep up.”
Try as we might, it is a rare husband who can keep up. But we try.
When I got up to the same page as my wife about the baseball team on strike, I was feeling rather low. “What do you think about your baseball game now,” she taunted.
As it turned out, the baseball team was actually out on strike and if I remember correctly, we missed the whole season that year. They were on strike for, you will never guess, more money.
Up to that point, I thought the players played because they loved the game. Boy was I on the wrong page with that. I went to games because I love the game and it did not matter to me who won or lost as long as it was a good game.
Now, to find out that my heroes, if you can call them such, were primarily interested in money was disheartening. I have never been able to watch a game since with the same excitement I did before.
Why can’t we just have fun? Why does life have to be such a battle? Why can’t we have a baseball game just for the fun of it?
Recently, I attended a baseball game at the local high school. I thought I would just go and enjoy the game. I did not know any of the players; I just wanted to enjoy the game.
Then I met an unfamiliar phenomenon of high school baseball. Parents of baseball players!
The game started as normal but soon the air exploded with shouting and yelling in the stands. I did not quite understand what all the noise was about at the time. Two women, imagine that, got in a fist fight over the ballgame! They were mothers of two of the players on opposite teams.
That was just the beginning of the shouting and the yelling that afternoon. As I walked away, I sadly shook my head and said to myself, “Why can’t we just have fun?”
I believe the preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes explains it well. “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14 KJV).
Some are so caught up in the vanity and vexations of life that they never know what it is like to just enjoy life. Why can’t we just have a little bit of fun?
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Fla. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at (866) 552-2543 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. His web site is www.jamessnyderministries.com.