Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Living in a foreign country teaches you a thing or two.  One of the things that I discovered when I lived in England over a decade ago is that sports are universal.  Not necessarily that every nation and culture plays the same sports, but that all nations and cultures play sports.  The rules may be different, but the passion is the same.  Most of the time in Nottingham when I sat next to someone on a bus, I could easily begin a conversation by simply asking the person if they were a football fan and if so, which club did they support.  It was a great question because even if they hated football (soccer), they could tell you which sport they followed or that they were a part of that small global minority which despises sports of all kinds.  No matter what the answer, a conversation was created.

Ireland shares a lot in common with its larger neighbor to the east, including sports (soccer, rugby), but they also have their own unique games (Gaelic football, hurling).  I've maintained my love for soccer since my days in England, but I've not yet gained a passion for the specifically Irish games.  At this point, I don't think that I will either.  I've only so much energy that I can devote to following teams and with the European soccer seasons lasting from August to May and with the bits and pieces that I'm able to watch of American sports like basketball and football, I'm maxed out on my sports watching capacity.  Sports may be universal, but they're far from being everything, or even the most important thing.  I've learned enough about Gaelic football and hurling that I can at least ask a few questions if I discover that my bus or dart mate is more of an Irish sports fan than a soccer supporter.

What's most interesting about the universality of sports is that there is a universality to people.  Whether we were born in Dublin or Austin, Nairobi or Dubai, we all have similar dreams, similar fears, and similar needs.  We all bleed when we're cut and we all cry when we lose a loved one (or an important sports match).  Parents love their children and children misunderstand their parents in every language and culture on earth.  Politics are just as polarizing in your neighborhood as in every other place on this planet.  Granted, there are certainly a lot of differences between people and places (thankfully, that's what makes travel exciting), but in our central core, we're an awful lot more alike than we might sometimes like to think.  So, when the writer of the gospel of Luke traces Jesus' ancestry all the way back to Adam, he's making more than a statement about pedigree, he's making a statement about universality.  The gospel is for everyone.  Every man and woman in all places throughout all time needs the saving grace of God that comes only through Jesus Christ.  And its through Jesus Christ that I believe our ever shrinking world will finally come together as one. - Shay             

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