This is a reworked post originally published elsewhere a few years ago.
Do you hear the faint sounds of marching bands filling the air in your town?
I heard that familiar drumbeat the other day walking through town and I almost jumped in the air and clicked my heels. I sure hope you’ve heard it, because like holiday bells, that will be your cue that the greatest time of year has officially arrived.
It’s football season, friends.
College football season, to be exact.
Yes, I know that thing they call the NFL is supposedly coming back on, but whatever. I’m talking about Saturdays, about Kirk Herbstreit and mascot heads and waking up to Gameday every Saturday morning so happy you just start giggling.
In light of having Christmas every Saturday for the next few months, I want to remind Christian college football fans everywhere (including myself) of a few things:
1. Enjoy college football, because it’s one of God’s graces to humanity.
Athleticism? Sport? Cheering and yelling with friends? The ability for talented people to compete in a game that’s fun for millions of people? Gathering with friends around appetizers and nail-biter games?
God is good and He gives us good gifts. I, for one, am thankful for His gift of college football.
2. Use college football as a tool for mission.
Most definitely here in the South, and in many other areas of our country, people eat up college football. I’ve lived in the South all of my life and I know of nothing else that brings our culture together this much.
So throw the best parties. Have good food and drinks. Make “Football Parties” a generosity line-item in your budget for the fall. Invite your neighbors, your co-workers. It is a super easy way to be on mission with those around you.
My 20-year-old self would hate me for saying this, but maybe even buy a big TV so people will actually want to hang out at your house.
3. College football makes a terrible idol. It will not make sense of your life.
As ridiculous as this is, it’s something I’ve battled ever since I can remember. I grew up in Clemson, and my heart is attached to that place, to all the beautiful, beautiful orange and the rolling hills and ALL THE OTHER THINGS BECAUSE I LOVE THEM ALL.
College football is a wonderful gift, in part because it offers competition, camaraderie, excitement, and pageantry. It is a wonderful rallying point, a great conversation starter, a fun hobby–but it makes a terrible god.
It’s easy to make idols out of the things we love, to elevate them to an inappropriate place in our hearts, to turn to them for ultimate meaning and satisfaction. We love created things inappropriately and they break our hearts, because nothing can bear the weight of worship except the One who was made to carry it. Anything else will crumble, especially a group of 19-year-old athletes running around on a field.
It’s tempting to get caught up in the story of your team, to think it is now your story–the thing that makes sense of your life. Which is ridiculous on so many levels, but still very much so a thing. I’ve come to realize that if a Clemson loss puts me in a bad mood the next day, my love is out of whack. It means that I’ve bought into the ridiculous lie that my story and very existence is justified by my team winning. That what a bunch of young boys do on a patch of grass somehow reflects upon the meaning of my life.
But God–(are there two better words?)–offers us a MUCH larger, more beautiful, and compelling story and identity. We are His rescued and redeemed people, the ones He’s using to bring restoration and hope the the entire planet. The most amazing college football dynasty is a miserably pathetic alternative to that.
4. Let’s be careful with rivalries.
The other day I was behind a moped at a red light, and I looked up to see the driver wearing a shirt that said “The Year Clemson Went Down” and it had a tiger in a compromising position beside a Gamecock.
My mouth almost hit my steering wheel, and I had this sudden anger fantasy that involved running and backing over that moped a few times. (I told you I have issues…)
Rivalries are so much fun, but let’s remember that we represent Jesus and that you really might be making people hate you with your inane derogatory nicknames or inflammatory Facebook rants after a game. Don’t be that guy who gets on Facebook after a game and goes:
AHHHAHAHA! (Insert rival team) really does suck and I hope they never win another game and that (Insert rival team’s quarterback) breaks every bone in his body…(blah blah blah & more ensuing stupidity.)
You might expect other Christians to forgive you for such an asinine thing, but what about your non-Christian friends who are fans of your rival who now kind of hate you and may get a bad taste in their mouths every time they see you for the next year?
Let’s remember that we represent Jesus, even on Facebook after a rivalry game.
That’s all friends. These are mostly reminders for myself, and I assumed they might be helpful for someone out there.
Happy football season, and go Tigers!
(Feel free to comment with well-wishes for your team so no one gets left out!)