ESPN makes great commercials. It has been that way since it first launched its “This is SportsCenter” ad campaign back in 1995.
Nearly 400 commercials later, the campaign rocks on with its wry send-ups of famous athletes (usually hanging out at the ESPN offices in Bristol, Connecticut), its comical use of team mascots, and its amusing storylines involving rapid sports fans.
But a recent ESPN commercial is anything but wry or comical or amusing. It shows the actual graves of truly die hard sports fans whose headstones pay homage not to their Creator, but to their favorite sports teams.
Such end-of-life idolatry may very well condemn those that died not in Christ, but in the jersey of their favorite ballplayer, to eternal separation from God.
Indeed, if fans are so worshipful of their beloved sports team that they would go so far as to memorialize their devotion above their final resting place, they clearly have not loved the Lord their God with all their hearts, all their souls, all their strength and all their minds.
They have violated the very first of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”
That’s not meant to suggest that anyone who loves sports, who roots for a favorite athlete, who follows a favorite sports team is sinful. No. Only those who take their sports obsession to extremes.
Like the couple that so loved their Alabama Crimson Tide football that they actually skipped their daughter’s wedding to attend one of the Tide’s gridiron clashes.
Like at least three different sets of parents – including one set living, ironically, in Corpus Christi, Texas – that have named their newborn babies ESPN.
Like those who are buried in caskets bearing the logos of their favorite sports teams.
Those and other sports worshippers may not think their fanaticism sinful. They may not think it threatens their very salvation (that is, if they happen to consider themselves Christians).
But one cannot go to one’s grave in open defiance of God’s commandment to have no other Gods before Him, abiding in the sin of idolatry for which one refuses to repent, and expect to escape God’s punishment.
For the Scripture warns that idol worshippers – like the sports fanatics who went to their very graves paying tribute to their favorite teams – “shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”