Should Christians Play Hockey or Boxing or Other Violent Sports?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

How can Christians learn to spot the difference between false prophets and pastors and those who are biblically centered?

God’s Ways

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. “

Jesus Christ has called us to peace, so can Christians play sports that are often physically violent? I heard the old joke that someone went to a boxing match the other day and a hockey game broke out. The point being, there are often multiple fights in a hockey game and you either become a punching bag or you fight back, so what’s a Christian to do in a case like this? Can Christians play hockey? Let your conscience be your guide…to a point, because ultimately, whatever we read in the Word of God should be the final decision maker for us in life. God says “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). In fact, it’s not even close (Isaiah 55:9), so we must trust what the Bible teaches and not what we think. We can’t rationalize away the Word of God. For me, it’s hard to reconcile playing hockey and being involved in fights and claiming to be a Christian. It’s so not my nature to fight, push, shove or hit, and that is not what Christ has called us to. What if you win the fight? Is there really any satisfaction for a Christian hockey player who wins a hockey fight?

Non-Contact Sports

I played sports in high school and remember them saying, “Basketball is a non-contact sport,” but from my experience, there was a lot of contact! I can’t remember how many charging fouls I took and hit the floor in this “non-contact sport,” however, I can see no real issue with playing basketball and while being a Christian too. There are actually opportunities to show good sportsmanship in losing and grace in winning. We can be an example of having the patience of Job during the game when things get rough, but basketball is a good sport and it is not really a violent sport. Other non-violent sports include baseball, tennis, golf, pickle ball, swimming, track, and even horse shoes. If we can find pleasures in these sports that are clearly non-violent, we should endeavor to play them with a clear conscience.

Bible Verses For Athletes

Contact Sports

Anymore, watching football for me is like watching two trains collide. The bigger the hit, the louder the crowd cheers. It is very close to the Roman gladiator games; games which were extremely violent and yet thousands and thousands attended. Football is often like train wrecks on the field; someone is going to get seriously hurt, but “Wow, let’s watch that hit again on instant replay!” It’s too much for me. Should Christians really get enjoyment out of watching “big hits,” where someone often gets hurt? Personally, I can’t watch that. Hockey plays into that same category. The bigger the hit, the more pumped the crowd gets. It can whip them into a frenzy, so for me, that’s too violent, and I can’t justify watching, not to mention, playing it.

Called to Peace

Jesus’ disciples were very troubled about Jesus telling them He was going away. Jesus had been all they knew of God, and now He was leaving them. That’s why Jesus said, “that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Apostle Paul said that “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18), so I’m pretty sure pancaking an opposing hockey play is out of the question. Rather, “let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom 14:19), and “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Rom 15:2). That means we don’t punch, push, pull, flatten or otherwise physically intimidate our fellow man and call it “sports.” We are told to “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Cor 10:24), and being aggressive against a fellow human being is not doing our neighbor good nor seeking their welfare.

Violent Sports

We know that “Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Tim 4:8). It’s important to remember that “we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1), so we should live in peace with all men and women. We should be producing godly fruits and the world should see and taste of these fruits, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Gal 5:22). Jesus Himself said, “be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50), and that can’t happen when you’re a boxer fighting an opponent trying to smash their face in. Bare-knuckle boxing is especially brutal and should be outlawed as being too violent. I don’t know why they even allow it on TV and young children seeing this begin to think they can do that too. That is way over the top and something a genuine Christian should never, ever engage in. It is antithetical to the Christian calling and not Christ-like at all.


Speaking of violence, you cannot imagine the violence ahead for those who have rejected Jesus Christ. If you have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ, you are in real danger because you are only one breath or accident away from eternity when it will be too late to repent. Today is the very best days to believe (2 Cor 6:2) since tomorrow is not guaranteed to any. This is why I plead with you as you read this right now, repent today and put your trust in Jesus Christ. If you do not, you will face God’s judgment after death guaranteed (Heb 9:27) or at Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), either of which could happen in a split second.

Here is some related reading for you: Why False Prophets Are on the Increase Today

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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