College Football and Christianity

It is (finally!) that time of year, the time when there are about 5,000 college football games on TV every weekend … the time we Alabama football fans live for. And the time when Florida just destroys Tennessee on national TV (sorry Matthew).

For some reason, people around here keep saying that football in the SEC is nearly a religion. Even the preachers say stuff like, “Why can’t we get as excited for church as we got for the big game yesterday?” Evidently, they think football and church are comparable things.

So I figure it must be time to compare major college football to church. It’s long overdue.

Let’s see —

Football offers popcorn and Coke. Church offers a crust of bread and grape juice.

Football offers tailgating. Church offers covered dish meals.

Watching football live risks getting whiskey spilled on you by a drunk in the row behind you. Watching the sermon live risks getting baby barf down your neck from the 2-year old behind you.

It’s perfectly acceptable to bring your own seat cushion to a football game. Try that at church and people figure you just had hemorrhoid surgery (and when will they start selling seat cushions with your church logo on them so … you know … you can support your team?)

Football offers a chance to watch extraordinary, highly conditioned athletes playing with great courage. Church offers a chance to watch the church leaders preach, teach, and try to do everyone else’s job for them.

Football tickets cost $50 to $1,000 (or more). Church is free, unless you take that tithing thing seriously.

Football has cheerleaders. Church has youth ministers.

Football has apocalyptic literature (you really have to click the link). So does church.

Football has quarterback clubs, where they eat together and talk about last week’s game. Church has small groups, where they eat together and talk about this morning’s sermon.

Football has a 100-member band. Church has a song leader with a pitch pipe.

Football raises millions in donations for state-owned universities that have values we find repugnant. Churches raise a lot less money for ministries we believe fulfill the purpose of Jesus’ death.

In football, immortality is achieved by giving so much money they name something after you (not that people will have a clue who you were 20 years later even if your name is on the stadium itself). In church, everyone gets immortality for free. (“Free” being a relative term. It could be said that it costs you everything.)

In football, you couldn’t be a player even if you wanted to. You’re too old and your eligibility was used up years ago. And you couldn’t run a 4.2 forty even when you still had your hair. In church, you’re part of a team fighting to defeat an enemy — until you die, which is when the enemy’s defeat becomes total.

In football, the enemy is another team from another university that’s not that different from your university (unless it’s Auburn, of course … or Tennessee). In church, the enemy is wickedness and Satan.

Football is about make-believe enemies. Church is about the real Enemy.

Football is fun. Christianity is joy.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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9 Responses to College Football and Christianity

  1. Jay Guin says:


    Moral victories are for losers. That's in the Old Testament somewhere.

    (And, yes, I'm no football prophet. One of several reasons not to bet on games …)

  2. Clever post Jay!

    However, I always knew you were a false prophet. . .”Florida destroys Tennessee”??? You HAD to jump on that bandwagon. I think we actually shocked the world this year.

  3. Erin says:

    I wish there was a “Like” option like on facebook. But anyway, I like!

  4. Kyle says:

    Did you just compare me to a cheerleader….

  5. Jay Guin says:


    "Compare." Not "equate." I'm open to a better suggestion …

  6. Zach says:

    The Blount program at the University of Alabama teaches a class on the religion of football

  7. Jay Guin says:


    I grant that UA is truly expert in the subject of college football. Regarding religion, however …

  8. Jay,

    I'm with you on "moral victories." One of my friends was literally gushing about our (Tennessee's) performance against Florida and I had to rebuke him saying, "Since when did we become Vanderbilt?"


  9. Jay Guin says:


    I speak from experience. Alabama went through a rough patch. We were so desperate for a while we even cheered first downs!

    As soon as you start accepting moral victories, what you'll get is moral victories.

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