Is It Wrong for a Christian to Play Professional Sports on Sunday?

Many athletes find themselves in what is seemingly an ethical bind. God has blessed them with remarkable physical talents, which makes it possible for them to play sports at a professional level. Yet, their particular sport often calls them to play or compete on Sunday.

In thinking through this dilemma, we must first understand that playing a game or competing in their sport is work for a professional athlete. This is not leisure time for them. It is their vocation — their means of making a living.

Secondly, Christian athletes who work on Sunday find themselves in the same position as early Jewish and Gentile Christians. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Sunday, the first day of the week, gradually became the day most Christians met and worshiped together. Sunday, however, was a regular workday in the Jewish system. The day of worship for a Jew was Saturday — the true Jewish Sabbath. Consequently, many Jewish people, after putting their faith in Jesus Christ, continued to both work their jobs and worship on Sunday (early mornings or later evenings) with fellow Christians.

Gentile Christians found themselves in the same situation too. The early church came into existence during a time when the Gentile world did not recognize a weekly day of worship. Christians in the Roman Empire carried on with their normal occupations on Sunday while also taking time for meeting together. This continued until the time of Constantine (early fourth century). He was the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity and the first to make Sunday a national day of rest and worship.

Professional Christian athletes aren’t the only ones who find themselves having to work on Sunday. Police officers, nurses, doctors, firefighters, and those who work in the military are just some of those who often work on Sundays. Whatever the profession, what’s important is that they regularly meet together with fellow Christians for worship and fellowship (¬†Hebrews 10:25 ).

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