My wife will be the first to tell you that I watch way too much ESPN. I used to love playing and now I love watching sports and just can’t get enough, whether it’s football, basketball, or weightlifting.
Recently I’ve have been trying to cut back little by little. And I’ve also been observing more and more how our American passion for football has become an obsession for many as they worship at the altar of the NFL. Is there really that much difference between the Greek and Roman religion that worshipped gods represented by animals and heroic figures and the hundreds of thousands of people who pack into a stadium to celebrate and cheer on the Bears, Eagles, Falcons, Panthers, Tigers, and Colts?
Nothing on television is growing as far as ratings are concerned because of the popularization of cable television and all of the alternatives out there. But the NFL ratings have annually increased. The Super Bowl is always the highest rated TV program of the year. I just heard two radio commentators discussing the unstoppable popularity of football in America and how across the country regular people like to discuss the NFL whether at work or home or with complete strangers they’ve just met.
Our country worships football. There is no denying it.
It’s disappointing as a Christian fan, but it’s easier to see since my Falcons don’t seem to understand what post-season play is all about and I have less real reason to be obsessed week to week.
And then there’s Kurt Warner and Tony Dungy. Two men who have made their names in this entertainment sport and who are consistently lauded by non-Christians for their impeccable character. They both have received some criticism for minor issues throughout their career but as these men have retired from active involvment, their career epitaph is completely positive and admirable.
They give me hope for sports in general and football in particular, though it’s not like I was seriously considering walking away from being a fan. Their testimonies are great examples of being salt and light. Admired and respected by the world, yet still standing for Christ and being faithful to the truth. I am jealous. I hope my life can follow that same path. I hope God allows me to be in the world enough to be a light but not of the world so much that I completely blend in.
2 thoughts on “Post Super Bowl Reflections”
Great insight. I agree that football (both the pro level and college) has risen to idol status in this nation. I did want to add one name to your list of Christian names in the NFL. This person is still new to the league, but if his pro career is anything like his college career, his character will be memorable. That person is Tim Tebow. I didn’t like him much when he was a Gator, but I respect him for his character.
If you ever wanted to cut down, I would recommend moving to a part of the country where no one follows your teams, and there’s no family to share the experience. A few seasons of watching seldom-televised UGA games by myself all but weaned me off sports. On the other hand, avoid fantasy hockey… I was an NHL fiend for an entire season a few years ago.
With the Pittsburgh QB storyline, this superbowl (the first I’ve watched in years) did feel like a contest between good and evil. I don’t mind that in sports. I think it’s a healthy outlet for our violent, clannish instincts. When I first read “Is there really that much difference between the Greek and Roman religion that worshipped gods represented by animals and heroic figures…” my first thought channeled Sam Harris: people don’t tend to murder each other by the thousands because their team is really the one true team. It’s actually amazing to me that it doesn’t happen — that so many people can believe so passionately in their teams, and yet quietly (or at least, quickly) concede to defeat and set their hopes on next year, without killing anyone. In fact, the idea that the winners are the ones to destroy their own cities via riots, etc. is such a perverse twist on what I’d expect that I’ve still never wrapped my head around it.