Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is Football Evil?

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.


David said...

"is this the way Jesus wants us to love one another, asking health men to hurt each"
So boxing's out too? And Cage Fighting? And while we're at it, all other physical and combative pursuits. Training for war, for example. The Armed Forces and their training should cease and desist in the name of Jesus?
"Faith becomes a rock in transformation, and I am led back to Jesus." Indeed. Stay under that rock and resist the urge to share anymore of your wisdom.

Anonymous said...

It isn't just the bodily injury that is caused by professional sports, but the fact that there is nothing productive to come from professional sports. They truely are evil because they are a product or corporate greed. We will not be a civilized world until our behavior is civilized and that means saying NO! to uncivilized activities.

Bruce said...

I say football is definitely evil because the Green Bay Packers lost last night! Now if they had won, I would have a different response.

David said...

Wow. I'm a David as well, but much less prickly than the first guy who left a comment on March 22. Sounds like you might have hit a nerve for him!

And yes, I would say boxing and cage fighting are both out as Christian sports. Would Jesus Christ ever condone a sport that specifically focuses on injury of its participants? The entire point of a cage fighting match is to beat the other person into unconsciousness or to hurt them so badly that they can no longer bear it and they "tap out".

As for the armed forces...I seem to recall a day in America where every American boy and girl owned a .22 rifle at the very least, and they could crack off a dozen rounds into a tin can at a great enough distance that it made the Japanese generals feel that an invasion of the USofA was an impossibility bordering on absurdity. How many of those "good ol' farm boys" do you think were trained in martial arts? Not too many kung-fu farmers in America.

So yea, I do think Jesus calls us NOT to brutalize one another. I think Jesus calls us to love one another, and to only EVER respond with violence when all other courses of action have been exhausted and great loss of human life seems to be the necessary outcome of a failure to act.

Exodus 22:2 is pretty clear on the subject of self defense: it is a necessary act in some situations, but it is certainly not "cool" or commendable. ALL loss of life is commendable, and anything that approximates or mimics the loss of life borders on pornographic or voyeuristic, a kind of obsession with the grotesque that slowly but surely seers the conscience and results in deafening our ears to the voice of the Holy Spirit.