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Q I watch sports on TV most evenings and weekend afternoons. Is that wrong? My wife says it is too much, which makes me feel guilty. But I find watching sports helps me relax best after a busy day.

A  Watching sports is not wrong. But your guilt connects to the marriage relationship, and if watching sports has become more important to you than your primary relationship, something is askew and needs to be addressed. Take inventory, together with your wife, about what you value and what might be missing in your marriage. Be open and honest, and avoid  the desire to win your partner over to your point of view. Acknowledge that you have different needs, and talk about ways both of your needs for closeness and/or distance can be met best. Coming to agreement will likely require compromise by both of you. It will also require more than one conversation and include concrete steps for change. If the two of you feel you are making no progress, consider seeing a marriage counselor for help and accountability.

Be aware that watching sports lends itself to addictive potential, much like shopping or eating does. In our culture, where sports hero worship is rampant, and winning is often seen as the highest good, sport addiction is not usually diagnosed. Perhaps relaxing with sports works so well because identifying with players feels relational, without actually being relational. Don’t be fooled.

There is always a cost to any addiction. No relational investment may equal no stress, against maximum “good feelings” gained by the efforts of others (sport heroes), but it may also mask loneliness and relational poverty.

Christ invites us to live abundantly and joyfully when we choose to identify ourselves with him.  Hopefully you are clear that watching sports, or anything else, doesn’t stand a chance against such a promise.

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