It is no great mystery to those who know me that I am fond of sports although certainly not always sanguine about many of the elements that go into sports. Among the more notable aspects of many sports that will definitely not continue into the world to come is the issue of deception. Deception finds itself frequently an aspect of sports. For example, in football, offenses and defenses will disguise their coverage and will fake a blitz on defense or fake a hand-off on offense and then do something after having tricked the other team to respond. In basketball fake passes and pick plays are likewise common as aspects of set plays or the improvisational nature of the sport. Even a sport like volleyball is well known for faking spikes and creating space to score points by deceiving players into moving one direction before going another way. The same is true for sports like tennis where people are maneuvered into one place so that a shot can be directed somewhere else where they would be unable to respond to it, and where a pretend move of one kind can put someone in a position to respond in a different direction that cannot be countered. Likewise, in soccer and hockey, one of the most reliable ways of scoring is to draw the attention of defensemen and goalies and then passing off to an unmarked player who then scores because the attention of the defense has not been on the second player. In all of these cases as well as in others, deception is a major aspect of the game.
Not all aspects of deceptiveness in sports are as obvious. A lot of races involving animals end up involving deception, although the goal is not so much to deceive the other people involved in the race as in the people who are encouraged to gamble on the game. It seems unlikely, for example, that horseracing or greyhound racing would exist as sporting events without massive amounts of gambling. And a lot of that gambling involves questions of the competitive strength of favorites and underdogs, as a means of encouraging betting action on a wide enough level to ensure that the house makes money. Deception involving gambling threatens the legitimacy of a great many athletic events, and has even played a role at the highest level of sports when people have been found to have taken money from bookies to throw games and to have engaged in dirty tricks to gain advantages or have withheld information to present themselves as being better competitors than actually ended up being the case.
Yet it is also true that there are a great many athletic activities where deception is not involved. Even in the previously mentioned sports, there are ways where one can play the game without deception as a way of maintaining fitness and building communication skills. I have seen this happen in the way that volleyball can be played, as well as basketball. Track and field sports routinely are competitions of pure athletic skill without any recourse to deception, as is the case with skiing, bobsledding, ice skating, and speedskating, for example. It is easy to see how this sort of event will continue into the world to come as a means of maintaining fitness even if we can expect the competitive spirit of nations to be less serious in the world to come than they are at present. And that is not even getting into sports like bowling and golf where the competition that exists is between a player and a course rather than strictly between a player and another. It would not be surprising at all to see all of these sports played to a large degree in the world to come, to see cycling or cross-country running or skiing or golf or bowling or other sports where one is competing against the clock and doing so in a straightforward manner in the world to come as means of recreation as well as enjoyment.
After all, when sports is mentioned in the Bible, the focus is on training hard and maintaining discipline. Paul himself, from his travels in the Greco-Roman world of the first century, has at least some awareness of the athletic culture that was popular in the Hellenistic world at the time, and he consistently draws a picture of athletics as a serious task undertaken with discipline with goal of victory, and not always victory against others but victory against oneself and the conditions one is working against. If sports is not a major aspect of the Bible, it certainly is not something that the Bible is hostile towards, even if we do not see any sort of praise of the panem et circus that was a major aspect of Roman politics and that is also an important cultural aspect of our own times with the combination of the dole and a focus on sports as a means of celebrating civic culture in our own day and age. It is easy to surmise that things will be different in the world to come, but how is not always as obvious, especially as someone who genuinely loves sports despite my modest abilities at them.