By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
The National Football League held its annual draft in Nashville last week. By all accounts, it was a boost to the city’s (and state’s) economy. Thousands of people traveled to Nashville to watch their favorite teams draft the future of those squads.
I’m a football fan. I enjoy watching the Tennessee Titans, but I don’t “live or die” depending on how they play or even win or lose. The hoopla surrounding the draft is insane.
People begin talking about the draft and speculating on which players will end up with which teams, months before the draft takes place. By the time the draft rolls around in late April, I’m pretty much sick of it. Yet, I listened or watched most of the first night of the draft. Pretty unusual since I have been known to be asleep by 8:30 p.m.
I guess I’m just amazed at how our nation has “sold its soul” to professional sports. Think about it. How many professions do you know where someone who has never played a down of professional football, swung a bat in a major league baseball game, or stepped onto the court of an NBA arena can demand millions of dollars before they have proven themselves at that level?
Athletes decades ago were paid for the next year based on their performance the previous year. If they had a bad year, they probably took a pay cut. Now, a player makes millions of dollars whether he’s productive or not. We truly live in a nation with misplaced priorities.
By some estimates, the NFL spent $20 million to hold the draft (a three-day event) in Nashville. Though the NFL no doubt paid for a lot of the cost, the city of Nashville spent a lot of money as well. Yet, within a few miles of the festivities, people went to bed hungry. Some probably could not buy medicine they needed or they are wondering if they can pay the next month’s rent or mortgage payment. I’ve been in those areas near the Titans stadium. Poverty is a reality for many of those who live nearby.
In our city and state, I think of those men and women in law enforcement and firefighters who put their lives on the line when they leave their homes every day, and the school teachers who serve in our public schools. We will pay exorbitant ticket prices but complain if taxes are raised to give our “true heroes” a cost of living raise.
Their paychecks are paltry when compared to the million dollar contracts of these athletes who have yet to prove they have what it takes to be a professional athlete.
Christians are as guilty as anyone regarding misplaced priorities. We’re the first ones to complain about “paying the preacher too much” or replacing 30-year old worn-out carpet, yet we will spend money on everything else.
The Bible has a lot to say about stewardship and money. Ecclesiastes 5:10 sums it up simply: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”
In a world with misplaced priorities, may Christians lead the way in keeping Christ at the center of what we do. He must be our first priority. When we serve Him, He will provide what we need.