Is Football the real American Idol?


I live in football country. The Southeastern Conference reigns supreme on the gridiron of our hearts here. My wife is a born and bred Razorback. I root for Ole Miss. (Yes, I do admit it) I am a fan of the NFL. Football is just fun.

But lately I have been thinking it may be more. I see in many a dedication to their football team that- outwardly anyway- seems to be greater then even their commitment to their God. I know that is a strong statement. I realize that I am certainly no judge of hearts. But I also realize what I see.

I see such an amazing passion for the team and the game. I hear all kinds of animated conversations breaking down the last game or anticipating the next. Maybe folks speak this passionately about their relationship with Christ too, but not to me.

I see school colors proudly worn and displayed. (I have an Ole Miss tag on the front of my truck- still) Having “put on” Christ in baptism, do we “wear” his colors as prominently?

I see mass numbers filling up the multi-million dollars shrine/staduims each week. (Terri and I were in Tuscaloosa for the Tide-Hog game last Saturday. Talk about overflowing passion! Folks stood for most of the game. Try that one down at church!) Tens of thousands on Saturdays make the game. How many on Sundays make it to church?

I see the coaches and players being elevated to near idol-like status. (At least while they are winning) Super Bowl Sunday is now for all practical purposes the American holiday even almost outstripping Christmas in importance.

Could it be that we now worship at the foot of the goalposts? I have actually heard more than one person say that this- the football season- is the time of the year for which they live. Are we listening to ourselves?

You shall have no other gods before me.

Jehovah first said that centuries ago when pigskin was still just the flesh on a hog.

Have we now turned it into the idol of America?


11 Responses to Is Football the real American Idol?

  1. Donna says:

    The good thing about Alabama having a rough few years is that I learned to not get so emotionally involved in winning and losing. I do still love to watch football, (Roll Tide) but I don’t plan my life around it. I like NASCAR racing, but I seldom watch a complete race, I just don’t devote that much time to TV.

    What I don’t understand is why we can’t get as passionate and expressive about the things that matter. I would love to stand up for two hours and praise and worship God in a group…that is the best parts of Zoe and Pepperdine. I just don’t know how to solve this.

  2. dannydodd says:

    I don’t know how to solve it either Donna, but you are not the only one struggling with the problem.

  3. Dee Andrews says:

    Tom and I both love football, too, Danny, enjoying the same SEC and NFL you do. However, it has it’s limits.

    That’s the key to the whole thing, I think. Limits and responsibility.

    Having said that, Tom is the current president of the Mississippi Press Association and as such has been invited by the president of Ole’ Miss to attend the Ole’ Miss/LSU game Nov. 17. We are excited about it, although our kids graduated from Miss. State and Ole’ Miss is sure to take a beating in the game. I just hope I get to go on the trip (I’m planning on it) and to the game (that’s iffy due to my health problems).

    Good post and I know exactly what you’re talking about. That’s one of the things that bothers me so much about the church here. That it seems so quiet and “dead.” Really terribly stultifying.


  4. odgie says:

    I have never understood it, truth be told. Sports are fun, certainly, but we make such a big deal about them. I remember when I was an undergrad at one of our Christian colleges how passionate people got over club intramural games. Guys who would stand up in chapel and give devotionals, lead singing or prayer, etc. would then get on the field or the court and cuss like sailors, talk trash, gloat when they won and pout and make excuses when they lost. Safe to say that God was not being glorified.
    Of course, I also don’t understand how people get so hung up on their alma mater’s record. If the college I went to has a losing season, what does that have to do with my life now? If my hometown team doesn’t make the playoffs, does it really effect anything in my life?

  5. benoverby says:

    Think about our assemblies, Danny. When’s the last time our worship looked like a stadium full of football fans who’d just witnessed a touchdown? Jesus won the ultimate victory at the cross and resurrection, and we either lack the passion to shout about it or we’re convinced shouting or clapping in the assembly is a sin! (see, and the discussion on “innovations in worship,” for a word of condemnation for all who clap or even tap their fingers on the pew).

    Not only do we not tailgate the worship assembly as a people coming together to celebrate God, we attempt to arrive as late as possible. And we’re really upset if the thing goes into overtime.

    I think you’re on to something.

  6. nancy says:

    what’s football?

  7. All I know is today my fifth grader made 4 sacks and messed up 3 passes. I’m proud of my middle linebacker and if that is idolatrous then I’m in trouble.

  8. By the way, what is with the picture of the basket ball?

  9. dannydodd says:

    LOL Nancy!

    Maybe that should be everyone’s attitude.

  10. Clif says:

    Amen!!! As one that teaches on a college campus and that it is also married to a college coach I often entertain very similar thoughts. I’m not sure that I’ve ever articulated it as well as you have, though, Danny. It’s easy to dismiss this analogy as silly, but I think we’d all be wise to reconsider the definition of “idol.” While we all have our dictionaries out let’s also go ahead and review the definition of “vain.” I think many Christians are ignorantly using God’s name in vain.

  11. Trey Morgan says:

    Danny … couldn’t let this one get past without a comment. You are so right about football. We get so excited about a game or a player. We clear schedules to go or watch … wow, you’ve really hit the nail on the head.

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