Thought Question: Is Football a Religion?

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Heaven concerned over God’s obsession with reuniting Tebow and MeyerMargaret Wente writes at the Globe and Mail,

You can tell a lot about a civilization from its monuments. The Greeks built temples to the gods. The Romans constructed roads and aqueducts. The United States built railroads, skyscrapers, majestic post-office buildings and public libraries. Today, it builds temples of worship called football stadiums. This may not be the end of empire, but sometimes it feels that way.

Now that the college football season is over, perhaps we can objectively consider the question.

Consider —

* The behavior of Penn State in covering up pedophilia, compared to the Catholic Church.

* The behavior of Penn State students when Joe Paterno was fired. Where do they find their moral values?

* The reverence Alabama fans have for the late “Bear” Bryant.

* The sense that Tim Tebow wins by the power of Jesus Christ, his personal Lord and Savior.

* The huge amounts of money donated by fans to universities to support athletics.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

  1. Of course this post would likely never have been written but for Tim Tebow.

    One of the most interesting facts about Tebow is that many people are saying that he wins by the power of Jesus Christ. A recent poll says about 40% of football fans think so. So I have two observations.

    1. A Christian should live all of his life in the power of the Holy Spirit, that would include sports.

    2. Tebow has never said it. What he has said is that God doesn’t care who wins a football game and that he is just giving glory to Christ as he would in any situation. It might be shocking that a Christian young man would be as fervent and out front with his faith in a football game as in Sunday school, but it should not be.

  2. Religion, no; idol, maybe. Only the individual would know. Tebow’s displays of faith are bringing everything from mocking replication to good discussion out on a subject that needs discussing. Paul said, “out of pretense or truth, Christ is preached.” May God get the attention and glory that is His. May Jesus be reign!

  3. “The sense that Tim Tebow wins by the power of Jesus Christ, his personal Lord and Savior.”
    when Mr. Tebow throws the ball and runs down and catches it, then maybe, naw not even then.
    There are way to many people who need personal help for that to happen.
    If that were to be happening, there would be a lot of Steeler fans looking for another savior, for they would be serving the wrong one. If Tebow has a deal with somebody, I doubt it is Jesus Christ.

  4. Mat 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    Mat 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

  5. To be honest, I am always a little disturbed on these Football-notes … and now, that you ask this question, I regard it as somthing close to idolatry. There is a soccer team in Vienna, called “Rapid Wien”, whose fans openly say: “Rapid is my religion.” Of course it depends on how closely one really is attached to sports, but I would not even pretend to be a cheerer for any team. That’s foreign to the Kingdom.

    Tertullian wrote a whole treatise on the shows (de spectaculis) which answers your question profoundly, Jay.

    Alexander

  6. Harvard Stadium was built in 1903. All the money for the stadium was donated by alumni so they would have a place to site while watching football. America is the only nation that attaches sports to education organizations. Perhaps that is our problem.

    Per Tebow, there is something we can all learn here. Tebow prays for his teammates. We should never underestimate the power of prayer at the workplace.

    Put a list on your desk containing the names of your co-workers. Each morning pray for each person on the list. Pray that everyone will love God and one another more today than yesterday.

    Observe the results.

  7. I dont know about other areas, but in Tuscaloosa – absolutely.

    If we are looking at religion as a thing that gives purpose and direction to a life, as a thing to which we are to give our money, time, and energy – absolutely.

    If we are looking as at religion as a corporate experience of edification, as a reaching out spiritually to something greater than ourselves as we join with others, as an ecstatic (in the literall sense) experience where our concept of time and self are transcended – absolutely.

    In Alabama football we have a high priest (Saban), saints (Bear, Wade, Thomas, etc), the body of believers (all self-identifying Tide fans), etc. We have liturgy (Yellowhammer, etc). We have symbols of “religiosity” (the elephant, the “A”, houndstooth), we have a “look” to ascribe to (for men it’s short hair, sunglasses, button down branded shirts, etc).

    We have a temple around which our entire city revolves (Bryant-Deny). The city closes for significant events surrounding football (BCS championships). Followers make the yearly “Hajj” to the bowl games.

    We even have the “desert fathers” – those wandering in the wilderness following their god. They just do it in campers with big “A”‘s on the side instead of by foot in poverty.

    Oh yes – football is a religion. To call it merely an idol is to disregard and underestimate what it really is.

  8. Dwayne, If you really believe in what you said, why don’t you begin at your small inter circle and expand that circle every day, wouldn’t be that long till as Merel Haggard said we would all be “drinking that free bubble up, and eatin that rainbow stew” why hold it to just those you love, as Jesus said even the pharisees did that. Although I have no proof, I doubt that all Tebow’s teammates are devout Christians. Maybe we should have Tim to pray for world peace and the cure of world hunger. Something more important than a game. If it is true that God would answer the prayers of a quarterback to win a game, and ignore the prayers of a parent loosing a child, I have been told a lie as to who God really is.

  9. Sports are a means many people use to live vicariously. Things they themselves can’t do, or once did but no longer can. Like some parents through their children… Then there are the fans. The very word fan is shortened from fanatic, not generally understood as a good trait. How many Christians would sit for hours in a stadium in freezing weather to participate in a prayer service? How many of them would pay admission to said prayer service, proceeds to be used in furtherance of the gospel? I think the answers are self-evident. In a sense, for some, sports serve the same function as drugs and alcohol – for a time they serve to make life endurable. Then what? Distractions only last for a while, then it’s back to the grind.

  10. Football is better than religion for many, and here is why:
    1. No one is late for the game, as a matter of fact they show up hours early for fellowship with fellow fans.
    2. People are content to sit for 3-4 hours packed in shoulder to shoulder on metal bleachers with no backs and never complain that it’s too crowded or uncomfortable.
    3. No one complains that we sing that same old outdated fight song every week.
    4. People attend the game in scorching heat of late August and the blustery cold of November, rain, sleet or snow the show must go on.
    5. Who in their right mind pays hundreds of dollars for ticket, pays to park, $5 for a soft drink, and $6 for hot dog and then complains that all the church wants is “my money”.
    6. A football coach is worth $4 million a year and a preacher is worth….well, significantly less than that.
    7. People talk about football as church, not sure how much they talk about church at football games.

    Just saying….

  11. Good comments Dwayne. We all could take prayer more seriously and begin with those who are near us each day.

  12. Where does Tim Tebow go to church?
    First Baptist Church Jacksonville,Florida

    Colt McCoy is a member of the Church of Christ, and attended Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. …

    Does this mean that baptism is not necessary?

  13. I have heard Tebow miked before, and heard him pray, never heard him pray to win. Have heard him pray for the safety of his team and the other team. I have heard him give thanks for the opportunity to be a witness. I have seen him kneel and pray for an injured opponent. I have listened to him sing (badly) hymns while playing. I think this fits Tebow:

    “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

    He cant quit talking about his faith because it overflows out of him, I think he is just a happy kid who loves the Lord and other folks read way too much into it.

  14. Laymond,

    I don’t understand how we went from “Pray that everyone will love God and one another more today than yesterday” to “the prayers of a quarterback to win a game.” Please help me to understand how we made that transition.

  15. What is the object of your devotion?

    If not the Cross, then it’s an idol.

    If it’s something plus the Cross, it’s still an idol.

    Idols don’t have to be physical things, although many are. Idols can be anything of our invention that we are devoted to, anything that we put first and foremost, even for a time. Agape love for football, for politics, for opinions: none of these, among any number of many things, are worth that level of devotion in light of the Cross.

  16. Dwayne, I thought the whole post was about Tebow, but you are right you only said “try it” you didn’t say it would work. sorry.

  17. Bob, please explain, “What is the object of your devotion? If not the Cross, then it’s an idol.”

    the cross is mentioned in the bible 28 times as far as I can see, and they are mostly repetitive, of actually five times. and the cross as far as I can tell is never referred to an object of devotion, more closely as an object to fear. a despicable device for killing. The man who willingly went to face that horrible death for the good of others should be the object of our devotion. And I believe he said the Father deserved all glory.

  18. “Where does Tim Tebow go to church? First Baptist Church Jacksonville,Florida

    Colt McCoy is a member of the Church of Christ, and attended Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas.

    Does this mean that baptism is not necessary?
    >>>
    I get tickled every time I hear Baptists used to represent the “anti-baptism” side of these comparisons. Makes me laugh every time.

    This post reminds me of the old boxing joke. A man sat in the front row at the fights next to a priest who was apparently very much into the event. In the third fight of the evening, one fighter crossed himself every time the bell rang to start the next round. The man in the front row was curious about this, so he leaned over to the priest the next time the fighter crossed himself and asked, “What does that mean?” The priest, lost in his intense interest in the fight, barked, “Not one dam**ed thing if he doesn’t stop dropping his left!”

  19. And anyone who has to ask if football is a religion has never lived in Texas. While pro football is a pasttime, and college ball is a matter of loyalty to one’s tribe, high school football is a religion.

  20. Charles, I was just wondering why Tebow reaps the power of prayer, and McCoy suffered a game ending injury, in the biggest game of his college career. I was just wondering what Colt had done wrong. No doubt in my mind that injury cost Texas the championship. I know this whole discussion is ridiculous, the bible says “God don’t take sides”

  21. Random thoughts:

    1) I am thankful that God has blessed us with such a wonderful sport as football to enjoy, get absorbed in, and revolve fellowship around. My image of God (a loving father) is not one of a guy with his arms crossed, pouting, angry that people seem to enjoy a football game more than they do “church”. I bet God enjoys seeing us happy, pouring ourselves into something, and coming together.

    2) The greatest spiritual experiences of my life come at my gym (Crossfit). That may sound blasphemous to some, but I don’t think it is. Most of us are believers, we push ourselves to our max, we rejoice with those that achieve a success, we love on the new people (everyone, really), we do good works together, and we give each other 100% support, and we build up those that hit a wall. Forced to choose between Sunday church attendance and gym attendance would be a no-brainer for me. It’s the difference between living life in Christ and just talking about it.

  22. Charles, I was just wondering why Tebow reaps the power of prayer, and McCoy suffered a game ending injury, in the biggest game of his college career.
    >>>
    Laymond, an examination of the facts makes the answer obvious. Alabama was obviously the pawn of Satan. As the scriptures say, “He shall crush thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Or, in the original Hebrew, “bruise the nexus of his brachial nerves”. Or something like that. We just haven’t seen the “crushing” part of this prophecy yet. Maybe in “time, times, and half-a-time”. Or seventy-times seven. Anyway, we do well to note that in scripture, God claims ownership of the cattle on a thousand hills (Longhorns) but nary one single elephant. The meaning is clear to any honest student of the scripture.

    I do love stringing together completely unrelated scriptures to make a point that the Bible never really makes at all, and which is fairly ridiculous to the outside observer. Gives me a nostalgic feeling…

    Wait until you see what I can do with Shamgar’s oxgoad…

  23. Laymond, I think Tebow would agree with you, God does not take sides in football games, that is why he does not pray to win. Surely you have no problem with him praying for his team mates, praying for guidance, praying for his behavior to be pleasing, praying that God would use his fame to bring glory to the Father.

    Or just in rejoicing in the fact that in “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

    Why do we have to condemn someone for being transparent in his faith? I prefer to think he is living out this
    ““You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

  24. Johnny, as I said this whole subject is ridiculous, and I never set out to change any minds, only to push a few buttons, sorry I even got involved, it was against my better judgment.

  25. I don’t usually repeat myself in a comment thread, but they say ignorance can be cured.

    One of the most interesting facts about Tebow is that many people are saying that he wins by the power of Jesus Christ. A recent poll says about 40% of football fans think so. So I have two observations.

    1. A Christian should live all of his life in the power of the Holy Spirit, that would include sports.

    2. Tebow has never said it. What he has said is that God doesn’t care who wins a football game and that he is just giving glory to Christ as he would in any situation. It might be shocking that a Christian young man would be as fervent and out front with his faith in a football game as in Sunday school, but it should not be.

  26. Any time prayers are being forwarded to God for something good to happen is a wonderful thing.
    My son tells me about wrecks on the hwy and how people stop, gather together and pray for those hurt that they have no idea who they are. One thing they all agree on is God knows them.
    In the climate of no prayers allowed in schools anymore, to see a young person praying to God for mercy and protection for all playing such a rugged sport is such a good thing to see and has caused many to want to pray just as he does.
    What an example of a positive leader to our youth that look up to him.
    I pray it starts a movement against no prayer in school and many other anti religious rules on our youth.

  27. Laymond wrote: “Bob, please explain, “What is the object of your devotion? If not the Cross, then it’s an idol.”’

    Laymond, you really need to wrap your head around the concept of metaphor.

  28. Bob, I know you were using both “the cross” and “idol” as a figure of speach. But when we are speaking of an object so important as to earn your devotion, I don’t believe we can substitute, “the cross” for the crucified. I do not worship the cross, I worship at the foot of the cross (spiritualy) because of who hung upon it. Neither do I worship an idea, or a plan, I worship the “Man”.
    I would love to be like Jesus, I just don’t have the guts.

  29. Laymond, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

    Paul did not worship the cross – but he was willing to boast in the cross, because he knew that by the cross the world had been crucified to him and he to the world.

    When we know that we have been crucified with Christ, we will realize that the world is dead to us and that we are dead to the world as well. We will be “like Jesus” because His death has become our death, whether we have “the guts” or not.

    That is what grace is all about.

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