Why do we care about the Euros more than the Election?
Why do we care about the Euros more than the Election?

When the General Election was announced we panicked. How could we deal with having both the election and the Euros on at the same time?

Very easily it turns out. Because no-one is watching the election whilst nearly everyone is tuning into the Euros.

Less than 3 million tuned into the first leaders’ debate whilst over 18 million watched England’s first match. This year the top-10 most watched programmes will all be sport, with the Olympics in Paris (in our time zone wonderfully) directly following on from football in Germany.

But why is this?

Why do we care about something, which whilst, as a sports fan is important, is objectively not as important as to who might lead our country for the next 5 years. Why do we care more about how Gareth Southgate is going to set up his team than how Sunak or Starmer are going to fix the NHS?

Possibly it is due to a level of cynicism and political malaise but I think, as we compare these two events, one is because whilst the election feels relatively certain in its outcome, the Euros, and sport in general, still provides us a wonderful escape of unpredictability.

We have a love hate relationship with control as humans. We play and watch sport for the excitement and mystery involved and yet sportspeople are often highly superstitious, trying to wrestle some form of command over the outcome. In wider life this continues. We live in a culture which tells us to ‘define yourself’ and that you can ‘control your destiny.’ Patently thought we know, just like sport, this is not something we can actually do.

I’m not going to try and unpack all the philosophical and theological questions of what it means for us to both live our lives freely and for God to be in sovereign control. There is a mystery in Scripture as both seem patently true. But as we think about the election and the Euros we can reflect that we’d do well to embrace and delight in both the predictable and unpredictable parts of our lives.

It feels easy to delight in this unpredictableness in sport, but in our lives we often hate it. We long to know what is going to happen. We want to be certain of how our kids will grow up, of when this illness will end or whether we’ll finally meet the person we long to meet.

Maybe we can learn from sport to embrace a bit more of the uncertainty of life. We can find comfort that even the unpredictable is not outside of God’s sovereign will and plan. As Dan Strange says in his excellent (and sport-filled) book
'Making Faith Magnetic':

“The Christian view of destiny is liberating because we believe that our good God has an unfolding plan for our lives, and that through all the ups and downs and twists and turns, we will get to the destination he’s promised. We can trust his plan because we can trust him.”

Sport in many ways, mirrors life. Full of ups and downs, many of which we couldn’t foresee when the first whistle was blown. So as we step into seemingly more of the known, with the election, and the unknown with the final rounds of the Euros, let’s look to our Good Shepherd, who leads us both beside quiet waters and into the darkest valleys. For him there are no surprises, in him there is ultimate joy.

Jonny Reid

Jonny is the Director of Engagement at Oak Hill College and also writes for Christians in Sport. He plays cricket at Cumnor Cricket Club and is one of the leaders of Town Church Bicester.

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