By / Nov 12

Every person is created in the image of God. The ERLC affirms the biological differences between male and female reflected in God’s creation. God’s design was intended for human good and flourishing (Gen. 1:27). The ERLC upholds the Southern Baptist Convention’s position on gender identity stated in its summary of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message which says “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation.”

Allowing biological males to participate in female sports is unfair to women and girls. Athletic competition clearly demonstrates the physiological differences between male and female. Biological males possess distinct physical advantages over biological females, which give them an unfair athletic advantage. These biological differences are the purpose of sports, separated by sex. Opening up sports to males hinders females the opportunity to compete and thrive in athletics.

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Allowing biological men to compete against women and girls disrupts the intent of  Title IX civil rights law. Schools that allow biological males to participate in female sports programs are discriminating against biological females. In order to protect the integrity of women’s sports, only biological females should be allowed to compete.

The ERLC calls on Congress to pass the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2021. The Act would clarify that it is a Title IX violation for schools that receive federal education funds to permit biological males to participate in female sports. Congress should protect women and girls by ensuring they are given a fair opportunity to compete in athletics. 

By / Aug 14

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss 2020 election updates, a shooting outside of the White House, a derecho in the midwest, coronavirus in kids, the housing market, and college football plans for the fall. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including a piece by the ERLC Staff with an explainer on “How to make sure your kids are safe on the internet,” Jason Thacker with an explainer on “Elections in Belarus, an internet blackout, and human rights,” and Michael Natelli with “How churches can serve those facing eviction during the pandemic.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Matt Emerson for a conversation about life and ministry.

About Matt

Matt Emerson is a professor at Oklahoma Baptist University and a dean at Hobbs College. Matt earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and an M.Div. and Ph.D. in from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before joining the OBU faculty in 2015 he previously taught at California Baptist University. Matt has authored or co-authored over 20 publications. His research interests include the Old Testament’s use in the New Testament, early Christian interpretation, and theological method. He serves as co-Executive Director of the Center for Baptist Renewal, co-editor of the Journal of Baptist Studies, steering committee member of the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar, and Senior Fellow for the Center of Ancient Christian Studies. He is also a member of a number of scholarly societies, and blogs at Biblical Reasoning. Matt and his wife, Alicia married in 2006 and have five daughters. You can connect with him on Twitter: @M_Y_Emerson

ERLC Content


  1. The Biden-Harris ticket rollout
  2. Biden campaign raises $26 million in first 24 hours
  3. Trump whisked out of press briefing after shooting outside White House
  4. Midwest Derecho strikes in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana
  5. There has been a 90% increase in Covid-19 cases in US children in the last four weeks, report says
  6. The pandemic real estate market
  7. Nearly 150 Christians killed in sustained violence in Nigeria
  8. The Mid-American Conference has canceled its football season this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  9. The Big Ten and Pac-12 won’t play football this fall, but the Big 12 reportedly intends to
  10. Pandemic plunges U.K. into “largest recession on record”


 Connect with us on Twitter


  • ERLC Highlights – subscribe for curated content from the ERLC’s editors delivered straight to your inbox
  • Policy Newsletter – Sign up for policy updates from our Washington, DC team. 
By / Jun 25

Forty-eight years ago on June 23, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 was passed, stating that:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Almost five decades later, women and girls continue to benefit from this law that was intended to provide equal opportunities for men and women seeking to participate in activities and educational institutions receiving funding from the U.S. government. 

As a former college athlete, I admit I did not give much thought to Title IX. It seemed obvious that women and men should have the same opportunities and funding. We had access to locker rooms, training staff, transportation, and scholarships. Many of my teammates were able to attend college because of the athletic scholarships they received. But a glance back at women’s opportunities just a few decades prior to my experience reveals a different picture. 

Teresa (Lucas) Kamm competed in women’s gymnastics at West Virginia University in 1973, the first year Title IX went into full effect. The law enabled WVU to hire a qualified coaching staff, upgrade the gymnastics apparatus, provide an athletic trainer to travel with the team for meets, allow use of the men’s football athletic training room, provide academic tutors if needed, and provide a bus and driver for the team to travel to away meets. In previous years, the school had a “gymnastics club,” but gymnasts had to choreograph their own routines, bake cookies to raise money for uniforms, and drive their own cars to schools to compete against other women’s gymnastics “clubs.”

Kamm credits Title IX with giving young women many educational and experiential opportunities:

I benefited tremendously from Title IX. I believe the training and experience I received enabled me to compete on a national level post college. As a result, I performed my gymnastics routines in six countries in the Far East. This never would have happened if Title IX had not been implemented.

Many young girls now have the hope of competing at a collegiate level with all the benefits Title IX provides. The ability to earn a scholarship and compete at this level can be life changing. Women are more likely to attend college and graduate when offered an athletic scholarship.  

In her senior year in 1975, Kamm was offered the first athletic scholarship given to a female athlete in West Virginia University’s history. As the oldest of six children, this was a tremendous encouragement to her family, and to the many female athletes who have followed in her footsteps at WVU. 

As we watch our daughters and sons train and compete, we should rejoice at the beauty of God’s design for creation and seek to teach our children that they are intended, loved, and created to point to the One whose image they bear. 

From learning to be a team player, to overcoming adversity, to gaining confidence and a positive body image, to higher academic achievement, the benefits to girls who participate in sports goes beyond scholarship opportunities. As a parent of a middle school runner, it’s a joy to watch her push herself and to be a witness as she cheers on teammates and learns sportsmanship. I’m grateful she has the same opportunities as her male counterparts in school, and I’m thankful she is able to compete as a girl. 

Challenges after the Bostock ruling

However, there may be challenges ahead for many women seeking the opportunities afforded them under Title IX. Last week’s landmark Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia extended protections against employment discrimination to LGBTQ people under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and saw the court redefine its interpretation of “sex” to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity. In practice, this could mean more transgender athletes arguing for the right to compete against students of a different biological sex, as was recently challenged by three female high school track athletes in Connecticut. 

The far-reaching consequences of this recent ruling could threaten the progress made by female athletes over the past 48 years. As Christians, we uphold the design of our Creator, who chose to endow men and women with equal value, yet distinct physical attributes. This physical make-up has implications for the way we perform in athletic competition, and those differences should be acknowledged and valued. 

As we look back and celebrate the countless opportunities afforded women since Title IX came into effect, we should pray that the same opportunities will be given to future generations. And as we watch our daughters and sons train and compete, we should rejoice at the beauty of God’s design for creation and seek to teach our children that they are intended, loved, and created to point to the One whose image they bear. 

By / May 22

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss the weather around the world (floods in Michigan, tropical storms in the Atlantic, and a cyclone near India and Bangladesh), falling U.S. birth rates, LifeWay cancelling summer camps, Chuck E. Cheese pizza, and minor league baseball. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including a piece from Aaron Mercer with “A warning about rising anti-Semitism,” Grace Liu with “How should college students engage with their families during this season of staying at home”, and Hanna Welch on how suffering is “Never for Nothing.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Charles Clark for a conversation about life and ministry.

About Charles

Charles Clark was elected vice president of mobilization in January 2020. Clark most recently served with IMB as affinity group leader for the Americas. Clark has more than 15 years of experience with IMB. Growing up as a missionary kid in the Americas, Clark began his career with IMB as a church planter in 2004 after working more than 30 years in the corporate industry in progressive leadership roles. Clark completed his corporate career as vice president of e-Business with Occidental Chemical Corporation and vice president of global solutions with HAHT Commerce. He and his wife, Karen, have three grown children and nine grandchildren Twitter: @CharlesDClark1

ERLC Content


  1. Catastrophic flooding in Michigan as dams fail
  2. Tropical Storm Arthur, the season’s first named storm brought wind and rain and the threat of rip currents, and high surf to the Southeast Coast
  3. All 50 states now reopening
  4. U.S. Birthrates fall to historic low
  5. More than 80 killed in India and Bangladesh as Cyclone Amphan heaps misery on coronavirus-hit areas
  6. China’s Xi announces $2B for coronavirus response as WHO faces calls for investigation
  7. Trump halts funding for the World Health Organization
  8. Japan suicides decline as Covid-19 lockdown causes shift in stress factors
  9. LifeWay cancels summer camp sessions for 2020 amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns
  10. Moderna reports positive data on early-stage coronavirus vaccine trial, shares surge
  11. March 16th: The day coronavirus nearly broke US markets
  12. A 10-year-old girl has sent more than 1,500 art kits to kids in foster care and homeless shelters during the coronavirus pandemic
  13. Chuck E. Cheese changes name to ‘Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings’ on delivery app
  14. Minor League Baseball In a Major Crisis


ERLC Inbox

    • Q: Our ministry team at church is trying to think through issues related to ministry and transgenderism. What advice or resources do you recommend?

Connect with us on Twitter


  • Talking Points: Abortion by Dr Lizzie Ling and Vaughan Roberts (The Good Book Company)
  • ERLC Highlights – subscribe for curated content from the ERLC’s editors delivered straight to your inbox
By / Jan 28

Longtime journalist Wright Thompson has written that every truly great sports icon teaches the same complicated lesson. From Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Michael Jordan, and others, “we learn the benefits and toll of a man constructing himself into the perfect machine to manage the first 40 years of his life, while creating a version of himself completely unsuited for the next 40. That’s a universal truth,” Thompson writes, “The tools required to gain greatness often prevent someone from enjoying it.”[1]

This reality exists in those who achieve the highest levels of success and fame in business, government, and entertainment. But sport is unique in that its stars can become household names as teenagers, peak before the age of 30, and be totally forgotten by 40. It is life compressed, and the athlete must figure out how to live a second life, one with nearly opposite skills, threats, and measures of success.

But every now and then, an exception emerges: A star athlete overcomes profound adversity or personal failure (or both) to find success both on the field and long after the lights have been turned off. On rare occasions, one of the all-time greats manages the transition. Kobe Bryant, who died Saturday with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash, was a wonderful, unexpected exception. 

The relentless competitor

Kobe Bryant’s on-court reputation was simple: He was a relentless competitor, a winner. 

Bryant’s stats are currently reminding the world of his greatness, but his career was less about stats and more about moments. He won the dunk contest just a few months after his 18th birthday. He scored 33 points against Michael Jordan that same year. When his peers were still in college, his alley-oop to Shaq sealed the NBA Finals. He scored 81 against Toronto. And then there were his dunks. One made Todd MacCullough famous. Steve Nash couldn’t get out of the way fast enough. He basically baptized Dwight Howard. Even at 39 years old, Kobe put 7-foot Clint Capela on a poster. In his final game, Bryant dropped 60, and even the NFL withheld breaking news because “Kobe deserved his night, and there was no reason for [a] trade to be announced on his night.”

What I loved most was that Bryant played every game as if it was Game Seven of the NBA Finals. In fact, he even practiced like it. One teammate recalled the time Bryant broke his shooting wrist in a preseason game.

I am ashamed to say that I was excited the day after his injury because I knew that there was no way that No. 8 would be the first to practice, if he would even be there at all. As I walked through the training room, I became stricken with fear when I heard a ball bouncing. No, no, it couldn’t be! Yes, it could. Kobe was already in a full sweat with a cast on his right arm, dribbling and shooting with his left.

Kobe’s relentless drive created a complicated persona. He missed more shot attempts than anyone in basketball history. He often ridiculed his teammates. He admitted to an affair. But Bryant seemed to turn his life around, and he became a role-model husband and father in the years that followed. 

The second act

Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, married in 2001, and together they had four daughters—Gianna, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. As many of his friends have noted in the hours since his death, Kobe loved his family more than basketball, business, or anything else. He viewed fatherhood as his primary job. The man who made a career of astonishing moment wasn’t about to miss one of his daughters’ moments. 

Even when still with the Lakers, Bryant demonstrated the priority of fatherhood. He explained why he began traveling by helicopter.

“I would be sitting in traffic and would miss a school play . . . I had to figure out a way that I could still train and focus on the craft, but still not compromise family time. So that’s when I looked into helicopters . . . My routine was always the same: weights in the morning, take the kids to school, fly down, practice like crazy, fly back, get back in the carpool line, and pick the kids up. My wife was like, ‘Listen, I can pick the kids up.’ I’m like, ‘No, no, no, I want to do that, because you have road trips and times when you may not see your kids, right, so every chance I get to see them, and spend time with them, even if it’s twenty minutes in the car, I want that.” 

The world knew Kobe Bryant as the tireless challenger, the Black Mamba. But his daughters knew him first as Dad. 

After his retirement, Kobe, Vanessa, and the girls often sat together along the court during Lakers’ home games. Bryant was only steps away from his former life, but he always seemed more enthralled by the time with his girls. 

When Gianna, nicknamed Gigi, took up her father’s sport, Kobe began coaching her and her friends. In an interview with CBS last year, Bryant was asked what was most difficult about coaching his daughter. He responded, 

“Making sure she knows that I love her whether she plays well or plays like crap. Doesn’t matter. It’s fine. You know, ‘You’re my daughter before you’re a basketball player.’” 

Unlike generations of stars before him, Bryant transitioned into the unknown second life seamlessly. He admirably concentrated his attention on his family. He took up a second career in digital storytelling and quickly won an Academy Award. It seems Bryant learned to focus his competitive nature on a practice, game, or editing session, then shut down, return to his daughters, and give them his undivided attention. 

The shocking tragedy 

Kobe’s renaissance as a husband, father, and storyteller only adds to Sunday morning’s tragedy. Along with his daughter, Gigi, and the seven other precious lives in that helicopter, Bryant’s death has moved the world to tears. 

In his final moment, Bryant was no doubt in a happy place: He was with his daughter and several friends, traveling to a basketball game. These two things—family and basketball—were his life, and together they are his legacy. 

As the Proverbs show, life is more than just being alive; it’s a flourishing of one’s affairs in vibrant family time and meaningful work. Conversely, as Derek Kidner has commented, “death is a whole realm in conflict with life, rather than a single and merely physical event . . . Death throws its shadow over the living.”[2]

Today, we feel the long shadow death has cast on us all, as we remember the greatness of Kobe Bryant on the court and, most importantly, among his family. It was a well-lived life cut far too short, a reminder of the frailty of life and brutality of death. And it’s a reminder of the importance of knowing the One who conquered death and offers the hope of eternal life to those who trust in him. 


  1. ^ Wright Thompson, The Cost of These Dreams, xiii. 
  2. ^ Derek Kidner, Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary, 53-56. 
By / Dec 30

The term GOAT—“Greatest of All Time”—is commonly used today, especially in the context of social media. We love to argue over who is the greatest of all time in every field. It occurs most often in sports contexts, especially in the debate over whether the title belongs to Michael Jordan or Lebron James. But our obsession with identifying the GOAT isn’t limited to sports. In fact, the term has become so widely used that Merriam-Webster added it to their dictionary (separate from the entry for the animal) in 2018. We want to know who the best is within each style of music, within different types of literature, and even in Christian preaching or authorship.

When Michael Jordan was initiated into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, his speech turned into something of a parable. At the time, Jordan was widely recognized as the greatest within basketball, if not of all sports. Yet, his speech sadly turned into a re-hashing of decades-old slights, insults, and challenges to his basketball supremacy. Instead of being gracious and simply accepting the GOAT title that the sports world was eager to give, Jordan displayed an insecurity and an unhealthy competitiveness that still sought an outlet. Like King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, Jordan had it all, and yet he found that it was vanity, a chasing after the wind.

Making it personal 

Like Jordan’s display of self-centeredness, we often don’t just seek to know who the best is—we make it personal. We constantly compare ourselves to others, and if we aren’t the best at something (at least in our limited context), we aren’t happy. I serve as a pastor, and recently, I had lunch with a church member whose daughter has taken dance classes for years. This daughter has been gradually surpassed in ability by some other dancers who are younger than her. Now, she can’t even enjoy her dance classes because she’s not the best in the troupe. 

We should seek to find fulfillment and delight in the arts, sports, our vocation, ministry, and any other good gifts, first of all, for God’s glory; he’s the one who has gifted us, enabled us, and sent us to use our abilities for his mission.

I also have friends who are incredible singers and have tried out for “The Voice” or “American Idol.” Given our cultural environment and the emphasis on being the best, it’s tempting for my friends who didn’t make it to feel like they’ve failed. In our flesh, it’s easy to lose enjoyment in something you are good at when you discover that you aren’t the best at it. So, we over-correct and insist that every kid in a sports league get a trophy simply for participating. But, what are we teaching them? What we aren’t teaching them is how to enjoy sports and other activities in life, even if we don’t win or aren’t declared the best. Furthermore, we’re failing to teach them how to celebrate others. 

Pastors often compare themselves and their churches to others, too. We can end up lacking contentment because the other guy’s church is bigger, grew faster, or has a larger budget. Usually this springs from a man-centered, formulaic view of ministry and a neglect of the Holy Spirit’s sovereignty in growing his Church.

Finding joy and engaging in God’s mission

1 Timothy 6:17 says that God “richly provides us with all things to enjoy.” Sports, music, and activities of all types are blessings from God. The devil has come to destroy our joy in God’s rich blessings. But, we don’t have to (and shouldn’t) let pride and unhealthy competitiveness take the fun out of these gifts from God. This is true for all people, but it’s especially important for parents or those who teach or coach young people. From an early age, children should be encouraged to excel, to do everything “from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people” (Col. 3:23); not to pin their self-worth or enjoyment of life on the outcome of a game or how their talent stacks up against everyone else; and to rejoice with others. 

We should seek to find fulfillment and delight in the arts, sports, our vocation, ministry, and any other good gifts, first of all, for God’s glory; he’s the one who has gifted us, enabled us, and sent us to use our abilities for his mission. I’ve seen God use pickup soccer games on Sunday afternoons to fling open doors for gospel proclamation. All of our hobbies and activities are opportunities for mission as we engage in recreation with unbelievers all around us. And second, we should be able to simply and humbly enjoy each of these activities, regardless of how we compare to others, because “it is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts” (Eccl. 3:13).

By the time I got to college, I had taken piano lessons for 10 years, so my parents encouraged me to pursue a music minor, even though I had no plans for a career in music. I got into the program, but I didn’t enjoy most of the time I spent with the other music majors because of the competitive nature of that environment. The thing that I enjoyed the most in the program was accompanying vocal majors as they performed. In those settings, I wasn’t in competition with other piano students. Being able to support someone else as they displayed their talents  and working cooperatively to create something beautiful were the main things that I enjoyed in that program. 

Competition is not a bad thing, but we shouldn’t allow it to rob of us of the simple enjoyment of God’s good gifts and the celebration of others. We don’t all have to—and won’t—be the GOAT. But we can all glorify God in being faithful with what he’s given us for his glory. 

And for the record, Pelé is the greatest athlete of all time.

By / Sep 28

Joseph Kennedy was a high school football coach in Washington state who was fired for kneeling by himself at midfield after a game and saying a quiet prayer by himself. Occasionally, students would join him and also pray by themselves at midfield after games. After a series of back-and-forth discussions with the School District, Coach Kennedy was fired.

The federal district court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his firing as a violation of the Establishment Clause.

Coach Kennedy is appealing his case to the Supreme Court of the United States, asking them to take up the basic question of whether public school coaches retain any First Amendment rights when at work and “in the presence of” students.

Last month, the ERLC joined the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, National Association of Evangelicals, Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, Concerned Women for America, National Legal Foundation, Pacific Justice Institute, and International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers in filing an amicus brief (friend of the court brief) at the Supreme Court urging them to take up Coach Kennedy’s case and rule in his favor.

The ERLC joined this brief because religious freedom is an indispensable, bedrock value for Southern Baptists. The Constitution’s guarantee of freedom from governmental interference in matters of faith is a crucial protection upon which adherents of many faith traditions depend as they follow the dictates of their conscience in the practice of their faith.

Our legal argument in the brief is simple: “Teachers’ private citizens’ rights must be protected against encroachment by the stat . . . The Ninth Circuit’s decision sets a precedent that strikes at teachers’ fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly.”

Religious freedom for people of all faiths (and even no faiths at all) is about conscience protection and is vital to our nation’s understanding of liberty. It confuses no one that a public school teacher is both a private citizen and a government worker. So actions taken by a teacher, even on school grounds and during school hours, that are personal in nature (e.g., wearing an armband protesting the death penalty for religious reasons, having a Bible or Qur’an at one’s desk, wearing a necklace with a crucifix) are protected by the Free Exercise, Speech, and Assembly clauses of the First Amendment.

Numerous Supreme Court cases support Coach Kennedy’s case that the Establishment Clause does not require schools to be policed as religion-free zones. Muslim teachers can wear hijabs, teachers can attend student-led religious clubs, and Coach Kennedy can kneel alone and pray after a football game.

The Supreme Court should take up this case and uphold teachers’ fundamental First Amendment rights. The ERLC will continue following this case, update you on its status, and be prepared to file more legal briefs defending religious freedom for everyone.

By / May 17

What just happened?

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from allowing betting on amateur or professional sports.

In the case of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violated the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

What is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act?

The court’s ruling struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (also known as PASPA or the Bradley Act). This law made it unlawful for a “governmental entity to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact,” or “a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote, pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity, a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly (through the use of geographical references or otherwise), on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games.”

PASPA does not make sports gambling itself a federal crime, but merely allows the U.S. Attorney General, as well as professional and amateur sports organizations, to bring civil actions against violators.

The law gave “grandfather” exemptions to sports lotteries in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon, as well as the licensed sports pools in Nevada.

What is Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)?

New Jersey voters approved an amendment to their state constitution giving the legislature the authority to legalize sports gambling in Atlantic City and at horseracing tracks. The NCAA and three major professional sports leagues filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that the action violated PASPA. New Jersey countered that PASPA violates the Constitution’s “anti-commandeering” principle.

In a 6-3 ruling, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Kennedy, Thomas, Kagan, and Gorsuch, agreed with New Jersey and ruled PASPA was unconstitutional.

The majority opinion notes that, “The legalization of sports gambling is a controversial subject.” But the justices said the decision of whether to legalize sports gambling “requires an important policy choice” which “is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.”

What are the 10th Amendment and the Anti-Commandeering Principle?

The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The Anti-Commandeering Principle is a doctrine based on the 10th Amendment and established by the Supreme Court in New York v. United States and Printz v. United States (1992), prohibiting the federal government from “commandeering” state governments. As Sandra Day O’Connor wrote for the majority in New York v. United States decision, “As an initial matter, Congress may not simply ‘commandee[r] the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.’”

“While Congress has substantial powers to govern the Nation directly, including in areas of intimate concern to the States, the Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress’ instructions,” O’Connor added.

What are the implications of this case?

The ruling in Murphy v. NCAA strengthens the Anti-Commandeering Principle, thus shifting power from the federal government to the states. Because this ruling will likely be used as support for other cases, it could have a significant impact apart from the gambling issue.

“Their decision not only opens the door for states around the country to allow sports betting,” says Amy Howe, “but it also could give significantly more power to states generally, on issues ranging from the decriminalization of marijuana to sanctuary cities.” Howe adds,

Today’s ruling could also have a much broader reach, potentially affecting a range of topics that bear little resemblance to sports betting. For example, supporters of so-called “sanctuary cities” – cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials to enforce immigration laws – have cited the 10th Amendment in recent challenges to the federal government’s efforts to implement conditions on grants for state and local law enforcement. Challenges to the federal government’s recent efforts to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized the drug for either recreational or medical use may also be based on the 10th Amendment.

What is the problem with sports betting?

As David E. Prince explained in an article on fantasy football gambling leagues:

Simply put, gambling is a societal evil that preys on those most in need. While some may say, “You don’t have to participate in gambling, so it’s nothing to be concerned about,” that way of thinking does not hold for one who desires to follow Christ. Our Lord does not call us to love ourselves; rather, we are to love him and to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40).

The biblical witness is clear that one of the vital ways we love God is by loving our neighbor. Gambling appeals to greed, and there is simply no way for a follower of Jesus to gamble to the glory of God and the good of his neighbor. Proverbs 28:25 says, “A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.” Anyone who has ever witnessed the devastation wrought by people who gamble their future away, attempting to get something-for-nothing, knows well the expansive tornadic path of destruction gambling greed produces.

By / Dec 13

Dear Christian sports fan, coaches are people too.

It seems like something that should not have to be said, but we live in an era that tends to dehumanize coaches. The dehumanization goes in two opposing directions. On the one hand, coaches are often idolized to the point of being deified. And on the other hand, coaches are spoken about in humiliating ways as if they are not actual human beings who are created in the image of God.

Most of the coaches I know are amazingly hard workers and very passionate about their job and the players they coach. In fact, some of the most influential people in my life have been coaches. I recall things they taught me almost every single day of my life and am abundantly thankful for the investment they made in my life.

No matter how much we love sports or our favorite team, we must always remember that coaches are human beings, image bearers, people with families. How many of us hold ourselves as accountable in our vocations to producing tangible results like we demand from the coach of our favorite team? If not, why not? Scripture commands us, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col 3:23).

No matter how much we love sports or our favorite team, we must always remember that coaches are human beings, image bearers, people with families.

In what other profession would Christians take to social media and call for someone to be fired apart from any scandalous or immoral action? When else do Christians publicly cheer and celebrate somebody losing their job because after all, they were not getting it done? One good rule of thumb for Christians is that you should not say anything about a coach—in person or online—that you would not say if he was in your presence.

Many people justify this dehumanization of high-profile college and professional coaches by appealing to how much money they make. I can understand that argument among people in general, but I cannot understand it among anyone who professes to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even if someone thinks wrongly, that because of a high salary and big payout it just doesn't matter what you say about a coach, he should at least remember that it is usually only the head coach and a few key assistants that make that huge salary and have that massive buyout. Countless people are working in that organization because of the head coach and will also be gone when that coach is fired.

Like every other profession, there are certainly some coaches that are better and more gifted than others. But like every other profession, as well, success in coaching is part ability, but also a matter of providence, the existing culture, staff, and countless other factors that fans do not know about. Bill Belichick’s record as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns was 36-44, and he was fired. Belichick is now 211-73 with the New England Patriots and arguably, the greatest NFL coach of all time. Did Belichick become a completely different coach in New England or was it also a matter of landing in the right place at the right time?

I remember reading somewhere that the great English Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon was asked what it felt like to be the greatest preacher in England. It was reported that he responded, “If I ever meet him, I will ask him.” Why did the questioner ask him about being the greatest preacher in England? Because his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, was the largest church around. Spurgeon purportedly added, “The greatest preacher in England is probably preaching in some little hamlet somewhere to a handful of people.” Spurgeon was undoubtedly a gifted preacher, but he also knew that the reason he was allowed to reach and pastor so many people was not merely his giftedness but rather the gracious providence of God.

Christian sports fan, there are no Savior coaches, and most coaches are not lazy, good-for-nothings either. Coaches are people created in the image of God attempting to do a particular job. Most coaches know that they signed up for a high-pressure position that will be judged on results, and they can live with that fact. But there is no reason for Christians to contribute to the vigilante-style dehumanization of coaches as we talk about them and our favorite teams.

Coaches will fail, and coaches will succeed, but Christian fans ought to be those who above all else, know that coaches are fellow image bearers. Of course, sometimes a coach needs to be fired. There's nothing wrong with stating that fact in a respectful way if that is your opinion, but as a Christian, will you also pray for him or her, their family, and all the other families and players affected by the coach’s dismissal? Let's not join the crowd in dehumanizing coaches. After all, they are people just like us.

By / Aug 25

How can parents make informed decisions on complex issues such as school, sports, media, and technology? Daniel Patterson sits down with panelists Nicole Lino, Tony Reinke, and David Prince to share some practical advice for parents navigating these issues.