“42” is the life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey. If you haven’t seen the film, stop reading this blog right this second and go buy the DVD. It’s that good.
In a heated conversation with another team’s executive, Rickey, played by Harrison Ford, asks the question, “Do you think God likes Baseball?” Earlier in the film, Rickey says that Jackie Robinson, played by Chadwick Boseman, is a Methodist. He then says he is a Methodist. Most importantly, he says, “God is a Methodist.” Tongue-in-cheek.
The point is this: what is the intersection between God and sports? God loves us, and he created us with determination, drive and desire: the main ingredients found in all of sports, and especially baseball. Jackie Robinson had to have determination, drive and desire to overcome racism, classism, bias and bigotry in order to defeat the demons designed to destroy him.
Sports is the ultimate cross-gender, cross-cultural unifier. Sports is the topic that transcends race, creed, color and gender. And Jackie Robinson proved that on and off the playing field. Sports gives many a sense of connection and resonance. Hence, I submit that sports cannot be separated from God, nor can God be separated from sports.
The connection sports affords is to bridge what I call the modern “sacred/secular gap.” Not everyone believes that all we do is somehow inter-related, but I do. “One of the key concepts of the Reformation was coram Deo: all of life is lived ‘before the face of God.’ In other words, there was no separation between the sacred and the secular–you didn’t do things Monday through Saturday that you needed to repent of on Sunday. Instead, you lived all of life as though it were church all the time . . .”
 Cindy Jacobs, The Reformation Manifesto (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers), 2008, p. 65.