Get in the Game of Life


The COVID-19 virus has turned our world upside down. It has rocked everything from our health care system, our economy, our school system to the landscape of our sports. As of this writing there have been over 700,000 confirmed deaths around the world due to the COVID-19 virus. It has been a pandemic of epic proportions that I hope we don’t ever see in our life time again.

Recently several major college conferences have cancelled their fall season of football. The Big Ten, Pac-12, Mid-American Conference and Mountain West Conference have all cancelled their season. As of now, 54 of the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision will not be playing football this fall.

What has been your reaction to this? If it’s one of your teams that isn’t playing are you already starting to go into withdrawals? Is that you Nebraska and Ohio State fans?

I enjoy watching college football as much as the next person. I even played college football back in the day at the University of North Dakota. We were in a very competitive Division II conference at the time. My whole world and identity was wrapped up in being a football player. I learned pretty quickly how that can change in an instant when I had a career ending knee injury that changed my life forever.

From a very young age all I ever wanted to do was play professional football for the Minnesota Vikings. I had it all planned out, but that wasn’t God’s plan for my life.

Here I am thirty years leader leading a men’s fitness ministry helping men to see ourselves the way God sees us. As sons of God. That is our only true identity.

A Lost Soul

I lost my identity as a football player when I blew out my knee. I spent the next twenty years of my life trying to figure out who I was. I was a lost soul. I tried to find my identity in women, alcohol and bodybuilding. That only led to more despair and darkness in my life.

I accepted Jesus as my savior ten years ago. I wish I could say that I recognized right away that I was adopted as a son of God on that very day. My salvation was worked out, but one thing I have struggled with is seeing myself the way God sees me. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” That can never change. I will never lose my sonship in Christ.

As we enter into fall with the recognition that college football may not be played or your team may be one that opted out of the season, how are you going to handle that?

I have seen so many men get caught up in sports that they lose that sense of who they are. They are living vicariously through other men who are actually in the arena getting bloody and sweaty.

I remember being at a restaurant last year where there were about six different NFL football games on TV. There were two particular men who were sitting in the bar watching a game. They were acting as if their life depended on who won or lost. Their identity was so wrapped up in their team it was quite disheartening. Don’t even get me started on the men who wear the jerseys of a professional athlete with their names on their back. Talk about a lost identity.

I say these things kind of tongue in cheek and if that is you, there is no judgement or condemnation. We have all been at a point in our lives where we have had mistaken identity and have had false idols. I know I certainly have and still struggle on certain days with my identity as a son of God.

Sports Has Become Our Drug

Why has college football become our drug? Why has sports in general become an obsession in our world? Is it an escape from reality? We all need that from time to time, but when it becomes our identity and sole reason for living is when we get into trouble.

When we are spending more time on the couch watching somebody else pursue their dream rather than pursuing our own dreams is when get lost in who we are. We get lulled into complacency. We tune out rather than tune in to our passions, dreams, hopes and desires.

What if we took all of the hours we would normally watch football and we start to pursue our own dreams? What if we created something beautiful and wonderful in our own lives and shared it with others. I know that would ultimately give us a greater sense of purpose in our life rather than escaping our lives.

Pursue Our Dreams

We all have the possibility to create something amazing in our lives. It’s up to us to choose that. We are in a challenging season right now in the midst of a pandemic. The way I am looking at it is how can we come out the other side as better humans? How can we look at the temporary loss of sports and use it to do good in our own personal lives and make a difference in the world? How can we get off the sidelines and back into the game of life?

Maybe it’s time to get off the couch and get in great shape.

Maybe it’s time to pursue your dream job.

Maybe it’s time to get involved with your family more.

Maybe it’s time to volunteer at an organization that needs you more than ever.

I want to encourage you to tune in rather than tune out. To get back into the game of life. Let’s collectively start to tune in to our hopes and dreams instead of tuning out watching someone else live out their dreams. You get to choose.

Troy Ismir, MS

Fitness Minister

Founder and Creator of Barbells & Brothers


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