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The Reason For Sports: A Christian Fanifesto Paperback – September 1, 2009
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This is not your normal sports book. Nor is it your normal Christian book. Here’s to some abnormal reading then for those seeking a different point of view.
-Kenny Mayne, ESPN sports journalist
Ted Kluck helps us think about sports Christianly without the Christian clichés and worn-out sports piety. He’s an athlete and a fan whose writing implicitly reminds us why God created sports: for the joy of play.
-Mark Galli, Senior managing editor, Christianity Today
Ted Kluck is passionate about sports. He’s even more passionate about the gospel. You won’t read any athletic rags-to-riches stories or find any cheesy quotes about ‘leaving 100% on the field’ in The Reason for Sports. Instead, you’ll find insights into God, the gospel, and the sometimes crazy, sometimes wonderful world of sports.
-Stephen Altrogge, Author of Game Day for the Glory of God
Ted makes it clear that while we do love our sports, the only real sports joy is found when honoring Jesus Christ. With much humor and much love, Ted gives enlightening and biting perspective on the athletes and events we remember most. What a treat to be convicted of our own idolotry of sports and, at the same time, laugh out loud! How can you not embrace a book that quotes both Allen Iverson and J. C. Ryle? Not a lot of sports guys reference 19th century evangelicals. (Ryle, that is . . . not Iverson.)
-David Stein, Host, Sporting News Radio Network
Most Christian books on sports are books about Christians playing sports. Not enough are books that give a Christian view on sports. This book fills the gap admirably. The writing is funny, honest, and provocative, and the subject matter is relentlessly interesting. Ted Kluck knows sports and knows how to write. We need more books like this one.
-Kevin DeYoung, Author of Just Do Something
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A. The book was a break from my typical reading. I found The Reason For Sports to be an entertaining read as well as one causing me to think.
B. I share some things in common with Mr. Kluck: We're former residents of the Hoosier state, thirty-somethings with declining athletic abilities, and reformed.
The Reason For Sports has twelve short chapters that cover a range of topics such as athletes publicly confessing sin, steroid use, showboating, and racism. Some of the athletes that are written about more in depth include Mike Tyson, Ricky Williams, Tony Dungy, and Muhammad Ali. Boxing and American football tend to be the sports most often discussed in this book. I never competed in those sports and only catch sports headlines today, but I think many Christians will like this book even if they do not follow much of the American sports scene. Sports are a huge part of our culture that often come up in our conversations. Unfortunately we often fail to have a Christ-centered perspective about sports, but The Reason For Sports can help us view sports in the way God intended. So even if you live outside of the States, haven't watched a football game for years, or your body takes a year to recover from soccer games, I highly recommend The Reason For Sports.
* The Reason For Sports is not the first book written by Ted Kluck I have read. I've also read Why We're Not Emergent and Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood. I highly recommend these books as well.
But if you bought this book expecting to get a Christian theological perspective on athletics, like me, you were probably disappointed. This isn't so much a book about theology or even athletics, but rather a book with a lot of introspection and anecdotes about how Christians can approach sports as fans and athletes. It's pretty thin gruel, even for a Christian book. There's no sustained argument, and even the moralizing is obvious stuff. Not an intellectual challenge, this book.
That said, it's enjoyable to read and not actively damaging to your faith (more than you can say for some "christian" books), so I gave it 3 stars. I really wanted to like this book more.
To be clear, "The Reason for Sports" is merely a collection of random essays, rather than any sort of cohesive unit. Kluck doesn't really develop a particular thesis, but instead offers musings about a number of different sports-related topics. As a former athlete with college and even limited professional football experience, as well as an established writer and a die-hard sports fan, Kluck provides various perspectives from which to offer his thoughts. And, in general, his thoughts are worth reading.
If you're convinced that sports are downright evil or wildly enthusiastic about everything related to sports, this book might irritate you. But if you have a more tempered position and are willing to engage in thoughtful, critical reflection while also seeking to embrace the good in sports, then "The Reason for Sports" might be for you. And you will probably enjoy a few laughs along the way.
While he's a bit hard on performance enhancers and celebrations (as you might expect from a calvinist), it's a good read that isn't too weighty or too glib. It's a balanced meal for the mind that entertains while not leaving you stuffed or unsatisfied.