Michael Bray

Author of A Time To Kill

Wrestling is for Men

Church Ministry and Wrestling: A Sport to Advocate

Basketball is the sport of pussies.  My dad is an exception; limited opportunities.  He grew up on Paterson, New Jersey and there were no wrestling programs in his neighborhood.  So, he did what he had to do.  He played basketball, was the class president, and went off to the United States Naval Academy and played basketball there as necessary.  But, generally speaking, and compared to the contemporaneously occurring wrestling competition available to the athlete who is pursuing excellence in moral and physical development,  basketball is for pussies.

It is for people who flail about throwing a rubber ball to the floor or to other players who spring about here and there, back and forth, like confused or indecisive cats running wild inside a cage.  When the event is concluded, all recede from the cage and depart as members of either the winner- or the loser-team.  Blame for the “loss” or credit for the “win” may be shared by all members of either the winner or looser side.  Each member of the loser team may well assign blame to others or even the whole of his team.  He need not accept full responsibility for a loss.  He is not truly humbled by defeat as one ought to be humbled.

Now the writers of Scripture were not ignorant of the sports and competitions to which humans have always been drawn down through the ages. And they used such sports as track and wrestling to illustrate the competitive and strenuous exertions which attend Christian discipleship and character formation.  These strains of mind and body are portrayed in expressions like “running the race” of the Christian life and “fighting the good fight” and “wrestling against” spiritual powers and the contrary desires of sinful human nature.

It may well serve to note that the cultivation of other virtues is better achieved exclusively by the sport of wrestling.  First is personal responsibility:  the singular person is responsible for his performance, victory, and defeat.  He can blame no teammates for his personal loss of a match.  The responsibility, the glory, the shame are all his to own.  (Agreed, there are also personal events in track and field, but these are not one-on-one events.  The losers are plural; there is no singular loser as there is in a wrestling match.)

Second is the personal discipline of self control, particularly with regard to diet.   The wrestler practices restraint of his appetite.  He learns to fast, to deny himself.  This is a discipline lost among many 21st century American Christians who are rich with food and excess body weight.

Third is humility.  It is related to responsibility.  The wrestler will experience personal defeat by another, who in that moment is declared a superior.  He will be humbled and bow before someone who has overpowered him quite personally.  He learns to avoid blame shifting and, rather, to assume responsibility for his performance.  He can blame no team for his solitary role in a personal fight.

Another quality of the training undergone by the wrestler beyond the realm of character is the development is combat skills which serves him in his role as protector of his family.  He is responsible to provide for the physical well-being (including protection) of his family.

Now when a church has within its power and interest and leisure to actually take time, space, and effort to choose a sport to promote and to which devote its resources, which sport ought it to be?  Which sport is best to select?

Right.  Not basketball.

So here is our conclusion:

Baseball is for boys.
Basketball is for girls.
Football is for big boys.
Track is for boys and girls, women and men.

But, wrestling.

Ah, wrestling, is for men!

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