Gone are the days of baseball and apple pie as the hallmarks of Americana (and I’m a big fan of both). Twenty-first century America looks a lot more like football and wings. With a faster-paced society comes a shift toward interest in a high energy game, and of course, fast food. I am quite the football fan, I must confess. I grew up in Dallas during the Cowboys’ reign of glory (RIP). I loved to play football until dark with the neighborhood kids, rain or shine, summer or winter. I loved discovering flag football later in life and finally playing competitively. I now live in a college town with a Top 10 program where fall weekends revolve around tailgates and watch parties. I had to pull out the home schedule to plan my baby shower a few years ago, because otherwise, no one would come!
I say all of this to emphasize, I’m not a football hater. Not by a long shot. Yet as a Christian, I must examine all aspects of my life and question their role in my faith. Here are a few common aspects of football culture we should be mindful of. Does your fandom interfere with your faith practice? Is football your golden calf?
Do I talk about player’s personal lives as if they are not real people?
Do I forget the STUDENT in student-athlete?
Do I celebrate or flaunt off the field failures (failed drug test, arrests, academic ineligibility) or on the field injuries of opposing teams’ players?
Do I wish ill on a coach, forgetting the family and friends affected by hiring and firing like any other job?
If any of these areas ring true, you are not alone. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a great game that has much to offer to our community. Let us, on this NCAA national championship day, ask the difficult questions now so that we might act in our local communities later. As youth and high school football dictates so much of the educational system and community culture, we must be active as advocates, encouragers, even agitators when necessary in order to live as followers of Christ first and loyal fans second.
Photos by State Library and Archives of Florida,