Sports fans beware—Taylor Swift may be coming to a stadium near you and she is likely to take the hopes and dreams of your favorite team with her when she leaves. As ESPN reports, the devastation started in July when she performed at Nationals Park. At that time, the Washington Nationals led the NL East and looked loaded for a deep postseason run behind an MVP-caliber performance from Bryce Harper and a solid rotation. However, two nights after Swift’s 1989 tour moved on the lights went out at the stadium and play had to be suspended. Ace pitcher Max Scherzer jokingly placed the blame on Taylor Swift. Little did he know the worst was yet to come.
Following that fateful night, the team went 32-39 on their way to missing the playoffs. Trade deadline addition Jonathan Papelbon got into a shouting match with Bryce Harper that escalated into a fight with Papelbon choking Harper at one point before the two could be separated. The team fired manager Matt Williams on Monday and faces a long winter of soul searching and rebuilding if they want to compete in an improving NL East next season.
The San Diego Padres were considered a preseason sleeper by many pundits but their potential never materialized into consistent success. Yet their already poor season got even worse after Swift came to town. Following her concert at Petco Park on August 29th, they went 12-21 on their way to the eighth worse record in baseball.
The Houston Astros were 55-45 when they decided to switch Taylor Swift’s scheduled concert date at Minute Maid Park from October 13 to September 9 in case the team had a home playoff game. On the night of her show, they led the AL West by two games. Since then they’ve only won 10 of 22 and barely held onto the last wildcard spot. They play the Yankees in New York Tuesday night to see if their season will continue. The Astros did, however, manage to avoid what would have been an especially ironic twist of fate: the last time the Astros missed the playoffs after being at least ten games over 500 at the halfway point of the season was 1989, the title year of Swift’s tour.
I fear to write the following words but it is the sad truth that the next time Swift plays in a professional team’s venue it will be at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. As she prepares for that show on October 17th, Cowboys fans have to be wondering whether or not she should even be allowed to land at DFW. After all, the team has already lost its two best offensive players in Dez Bryant and Tony Romo for much of the season. Linebacker and defensive leader Sean Lee suffered a concussion in the team’s loss to the Saints while Lance Dunbar tore his ACL in the same game. Fortunately, Dallas has a bye week following the show but if all of those injuries happened in the weeks building up to the concert, I dread to think what evil might befall the team when they travel to New York to play the Giants on October 25th.
Sports fans love their superstitions. Whether it’s sitting in the same chair to watch every game, not washing a jersey when your team’s on a hot streak, or looking for supernatural causes for your club’s latest failures, superstitions and sports will forever go hand in hand. The thing is, these superstitions don’t even have to make sense; they just have to be believable enough to provide an alternative to the fact that your team simply wasn’t good enough to succeed. And when your team does well, they give you a sense of ownership in that success, no matter how infinitesimally small it might be. And really, that’s what we, as fans, want more than anything else: the chance to share in the glorious achievements of those who play a sport at a level we could never hope to match.
Unfortunately, it can be easy for us to take a similar approach in our work for God’s kingdom. Many Christians look around at ministers, missionaries, and others who are doing great things for the Lord and think their proper role is simply to cheer on those better believers. It reflects the false belief that professional Christians have a higher or more important calling than the rest of us. That is simply not true and it is imperative that we understand the fact that every one of us has a unique role that only we have been created to play (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). God has created you for so much more than watching from the stands while a few try to do the work of many.
That’s not to say that supporting your fellow believers is not also part of God’s calling. But don’t just offer that support from afar, thinking that if you just tithe each month or offer the occasional prayer for those on the mission field that you’ve done your part. Those are good and vitally important things, but they are still less than the everyday, holistic devotion to God’s will that our Lord desires.
At the church my family and I attend, one of the central ideas that guide our ministry is the belief that every member is a minister. Everyone must embrace this idea if we’re going to fulfill God’s calling for each of our lives. If you are a follower of Christ then you are part of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
We are all professional Christians in God’s eyes and it’s time we started living like it. Will you?