Is football evil? Recently, I have given up support football for the reason that I became convinced that the sport cannot be played without brain damage to the players. I wrote about it for Sojourners.
Reading Malcom Gladwell's essay Offensive Play made me question supporting a sport that leads to so much pain and suffering. I kept thinking if baby Tito grew up and played football, would it be worth it? and "Can a Christian support the sport, morally, once they understand the costs?"
I have always said the faith in Jesus means confronting sin in your own life. Jesus has an annoying habit of revealing where you fall short. Then he gives you the strength to transcend your weakness. So, when I learn about the problems associated with football, I went into prayer. I found myself arguing with what I knew was right. NFL players get paid great to play. They love the game and it is their choice if they want to play. The question that kept nagging me was ..is this the way Jesus wants us to love one another, asking health men to hurt each other for my entertainment? So, I quit cold turkey.
Now, the problem is that I was a football fan. I found myself having to disciple myself from checking the scores, following the stories and hearing the talk at work. I want to check how UTEP, my alma mater did? I want to check on how favorite players are doing. In short, I am going through withdrawals gitters. I am learning how much my mind and its justification works, as the arguments about why football is okay come back with a vengence. I find it has drawn me back into prayer. I have learn agian about my weakness, as I needed another reminder. In prayer I find myself praying for the families of Mike Webster, (the deceased former Pittsburg Steeler center) and Andre Waters, (the deceased former Philidelphia safety) and all who now suffer after their playing days.
I do share as to why I no longer watch or support football, but I try not to sound superior. After all I did support football for over twenty-five years. I know I now have less to connect with other males, as football is an easy connection. "What is your team?" is a question I have to learn to navigate without sound self righteous. Faith becomes a rock in transformation, and I am led back to Jesus.