Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Name of the Game

I enjoy watching football and baseball games on TV…especially if the Vikings and Twins are playing well. But one thing I loathe is the increasing number of sporting events and stadiums named after businesses. 

During the 1980’s, organizers of college bowl games started giving corporate sponsors “naming rights.” All these games used to have simple names like the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. Now we have games such as the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. What’s really confusing is many of these games change their name every few years. For example, this year’s Belk Bowl (to be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina) was previously called the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Continental Tire Bowl, and before that the Queen City Bowl.

Nowadays, most major league teams play in venues named after a corporate sponsor. In 1990 when the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves announced their new arena would be called Target Center, I was surprised. That sounded more like a shopping mall than a sporting venue. Until two years ago, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis hadn’t succumbed to this trend. The stadium has since been renamed Mall of America Field. I could accept the name change if the Metrodome was part of the largest shopping center in the U. S. But the Mall of America is located ten miles away in the suburb of Bloomington.

Even the players now are offering money to get their names recognized at stadiums. E.J. and Erin Henderson of the Minnesota Vikings recently made a $20,000 donation to have a new scoreboard installed at their old high school in Aberdeen, Maryland. In exchange, the two brothers asked for their family name to be displayed on the scoreboard. The Aberdeen School Board denied their request. For one thing, the total cost of a new scoreboard is actually $50,000.

Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 6…

1“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

Some churches have miniature plaques or bricks acknowledging the names of donors who contributed to causes such as a building project. If a pastor chooses to honor these donors, that’s between him and the Lord. But congregation members shouldn’t seek public recognition for their giving.

So the next time you are about to give in an offering or fundraiser, examine your motives. God wants us to be generous but with no strings attached.

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” 
- Proverbs 22:1

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