ESPN often has ads that say “It’s not crazy; it’s sports.” Honestly, I love them. I love them because more often than not, they are so terribly true. Being a sports fan oftentimes drives one nearly over the edge of sanity. And, like shanking a golf ball, sports often lead fans to say some pretty mean things.
Tonight I had the benefit of being preoccupied with reading during the Packers/Seahawks game (or the Packers/Seahawks/Replacement-Refs game). I might have had a very different reaction if I had been watching the game live; a reaction I don’t think I’d be very proud of.
I say that because sometimes when you get so wrapped up with something like a football game, a round of golf, a political debate, or some other realm of competition, you forget what’s most important. You lose sight of the bigger picture. You very easily forget that sports are also called games; meant to be played fairly and meant to be fun.
Of course, bad calls are annoying – especially when they’re brought about because of a certain NFL referee lockout, which has taken away the normal, veteran referees (who we hope would get the calls right… we hope). But, even with what might be the worst call of the season (at least for Packer fans), bad calls remain a part of the game. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
I may not be the most devoted Packer fan, but they are my favorite team. And what I cannot allow myself to do is to forsake who I am in Christ for a football team. With as much as I love Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver, and Clay Matthews, none of them gave me life – neither physical nor spiritual. With as much as I love my Ducks, I love my God more. And with as much as I love it when my favorite team wins by pummeling the other team, Christ’s victory by getting pummeled to death beckons not just most of my allegiance; it beckons all of my allegiance.
As part of an upcoming series of blog posts from Near Emmaus on the NFL and being a follower of Christ, I’m already working on a rather extensive contribution post, so these thoughts about true devotion have been on my mind for the past couple of weeks. Tonight’s game, however, provided a perfect example of why devotion to God trumps devotion to a favorite football team or politician or even a favorite ice cream flavor. And what I think is even more challenging to consider is what if it had been the Packers making that hail-Mary “touchdown” catch to win the game? What if it was the exact same play, but with the teams completely flipped? Would I still have these same thoughts?
I have a hard time believing so. And that, with the grace of God, is what needs to change.