David Brooks in "The Jeremy Lin Problem," his column this past Friday--yes, I'm about 72 hours behind in my reading:
[Jeremy Lin is] a Harvard grad in the N.B.A., an Asian-American man in professional sports. But we shouldn’t neglect the biggest anomaly. He’s a religious person in professional sports.
The ethos of sports, David argues, is "in tension" with the ethos of religion.
The moral universe of modern sport is oriented around victory and supremacy. The sports hero tries to perform great deeds in order to win glory and fame. It doesn’t really matter whether he has good intentions. His job is to beat his opponents and avoid the oblivion that goes with defeat....
Ascent in the sports universe is a straight shot. You set your goal, and you climb toward greatness. But ascent in the religious universe often proceeds by a series of inversions: You have to be willing to lose yourself in order to find yourself; to gain everything you have to be willing to give up everything; the last shall be first; it’s not about you.
For many religious teachers, humility is the primary virtue. You achieve loftiness of spirit by performing the most menial services....You achieve your identity through self-effacement. You achieve strength by acknowledging your weaknesses.
Sports and religion, in permanent conflict.
This doesn't strike me as quite right, but, I have to confess, it doesn't strike me altogether mistaken, either.