FROM EXCRUCIATINGLY BLINKERED post-tournament thanks yous to elaborate, self-aggrandising goal celebrations, sport and strong religious conviction have a history of making uncomfortable bedfellows.
And now, thanks to the journalistic stylings of Dan Delzell, a Nebraskan pastor and columnist with the Christian Post, we can safely say the same goes for sportwriting, too.
After spending the opening three paragraphs of his most recent column for the paper riffing on Novak Djokovic’s stunning forehand winner against Roger Federer in the semi-final of this month’s US Open, the pastor took a unique and ill-advised detour into the realm of religious analogy:
“It makes me think of the stunned disbelief that Satan found himself in when Jesus showed up at his doorstep after His victory on the cross. Satan must have been thinking, ‘How does He play a shot like that on match point?’ St. Peter writes, ‘Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison.’ (1 Peter 3:18,19)”
Undeterred, he continued:
“Jesus didn’t go to hell to preach repentance. He went there to proclaim His victory. It was His first “press conference” after the match, and Satan had a front row seat. That cunning serpent thought He had pulled one over on the Almighty. As Satan was just starting to find out, he was the loser who had choked and Jesus had ‘joked’ by hitting the biggest shot this universe will ever witness. The joke was on Satan. He lost, and Jesus reigns forevermore.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Novak Djokovic claimed his fourth Grand Slam. I think.