Should You Be So Emotionally Invested in Football?

When does fandom become idolatry?

BY SHANE PRUITT CULTURE August 31, 2017

I’m a follower of Jesus, a leader in my denomination, a preacher of the Word and at the same time—I’m a huge football fanatic. Specifically, a Miami Dolphins fan. Do I live in Florida? Nope. I have lived in Texas my whole life. “You’re not a Cowboys’ fan,” you ask? Heck, no! In fact, every week during the NFL season, I root for two teams: the Dolphins and whoever is playing the Dallas Cowboys.

How did this happen? I’m really not sure. I’ve loved the aqua and orange clad team as long as I can remember. Yes, even before Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. I have a Dan Marino jersey that is now too small for my 11-year-old that was mine when I was a kid. It’s been that long. Let’s just say that I am a Miami Dolphins fan by the sovereignty of God! Possibly, it was predestined before the foundation of the world. Sadly, I’m only partially kidding.

I’d be the first to tell you that far too often, football brings out the worst in me.

Embarrassingly, it can make my day, and it can ruin my day.

If I’m not careful, here are four ways that being a football fanatic brings out the worst in me.

Football Causes Me to Be too Happy

In the 2016 season, my favorite team ended the season on an incredible winning steak. They won their last nine out of 10 games, and made the playoffs. Excitement would be an understatement. I remember our oldest daughter making an innocent statement that jolted me to my core. She said, “Daddy, I’ve never seen you so excited!”

Wait, what? I had the privilege to pray with this beautiful girl when she received Christ as her Lord and Savior. My wife and I got to baptize her. She sees me love and kiss her mom who I’ve been faithfully married to for 13 years. She was a part of witnessing her four younger siblings join our family—three through adoption. And football is what she believes brings her daddy the most joy?

What I am I displaying to her? Shame on me. That is my fault. It brought me to a place of holy repentance where my priorities needed to be re-evaluated and realigned.

Football Causes Me to Be too Angry

Most people describe me as a fun-loving and easygoing guy who doesn’t get easily mad or flustered. However, this game where overgrown men chase a pigskin up and down a lawn with numbers spray-painted on it can make my blood boil. A bad loss can turn into a bad day. A terrible pass can turn into a terrible thought.

It causes me to quickly forget that the referee who makes a bad call is still made in the image of a good God. If the bitter-rival makes me bitter, that is not OK. If yellow flags upset me more than starving children do, that is not OK.

If missed field goals bother me more than missed Gospel opportunities do, it’s time to get a hold of myself.

Football Causes Me to Justify Sin

No one is perfect. We all have our share of mistakes and mishaps. We’re all sinners in desperate need of the grace of God.

However, I have found that I tend to justify or crucify the actions of players depending on the jersey they are wearing. It’s amazing how even as Christians, people who are called to walk in holiness and stand for truth and righteousness, we will turn a blind-eye to the actions of someone because they play for our favorite team.

Sin is sin, even if we own that player’s jersey.

If I am going to be a man of God who stands in the face of injustice, then I must also stand in the face of injustice over how some of our sisters are being treated by some of our favorite athletes.

Football Causes Me to Give It too Much Attention

Can I be honest for a minute?

Once again, I am a Christian leader who, on average preaches two to three times a week. However, if I read my Bible the equivalent of every minute that I devoted to watching football, reading fantasy reports and replaying highlights; I’d get through the Bible about three dozen times a year.

This game can rob precious time and resources that has been given by God to us to steward for His glory and the good of others.

This is what I mean: We’ll sit and watch a game in the freezing snow, but let a light rain keep us from a church service. We’ll spend hundreds on tickets, NFL packages and memorabilia, but give nothing in tithes and offering. We’ll watch and read for hours, but say we’re too busy to study the Word of God.

Actually, this game doesn’t cause me to do any of these things. It’s my problem. It’s what I need to repentant of and correct.

Football is a really great game. In fact, in my opinion, it’s the greatest of all games. For me, I believe this game can be used for the glory of God. It is a great mission field for players to witness to others. It is a great talking point of commonality to build friendships for the Gospel’s sake. It can be used as a platform to point to the greatness of God. However, for me, I must constantly make sure it is not taking the place of God in my life.

Shane Pruitt

SHANE PRUITT

Husband, Father, Director of Missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Writer & Communicator. www.shanepruitt.com Instagram and Twitter: @shane_pruitt78

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