When fathers spend a large amount of time and large sums of money on football, equipment, tickets to the game, tailgating expenses, and spend very little energy in the body life of the church—such a testimony speaks volumes about the god the father worships. Either God is perceived as boring and irrelevant or the children of the family are left to discern if their father is actually worshipping the god of football rather than the God of holy Scripture.
all is quickly approaching, but prior to the changing of the leaves on the trees will come Friday night lights. If the Christian life is the pursuit of God— countless families are on a relentless pursuit of football. Obsession is an understatement. Fanaticism is normal. The sport of American football is perhaps America’s leading false god. Some 36.2 million children in America play organized sports. Out of that number, approximately 1.2 million boys play organized football in America. The game is played by young children in recreational leagues, middle and high school, college, and if you’re good enough—you can suit up and play on the Lord’s Day.
In case you’re wondering, I have no axe to grind when it comes to the game of football. I enjoy the game itself and I’m coaching my son’s flag football team this season. I was recently asked about this very issue in a pastoral questions and answers session, so I thought an article would enable a more full response. I am concerned with how passionate people can become over a game—far more so than they are about the gospel and their service for the Lord. When 7 of the 10 Commandments are frequently broken on an average NFL game—we should take note. Consider the way football changes the lives of so many people throughout America—even those within the church who profess to be children of God.
Football Determines Schedules
In many towns throughout history, athletic leagues looked to the calendar of the churches in town prior to organizing their events so that they would not overlap plans and regular worship schedules of the local church. Today, local churches are looking to the athletic leagues as they plan their yearly schedule to avoid overlap with the local football or baseball teams. In today’s culture—stadiums are overflowing while churches are empty. Many families have replaced the worship of God with the worship of football. In many ways, athletics as a whole has become an idol. Football has emerged as perhaps the largest false god among the group.
Not only the schedule of the local church, but football drives the schedule of the family who has children who participate in the game of football. Consider how many things are shuffled around to cater to the football schedule. In many cases, families are brought to a crossroads decision—will “little Johnny” go to church on Wednesday with the rest of our family or will he go to football practice or a game at the local school? Will “little Susie” attend the church’s gathering or the football game as a cheerleader? These are real decisions that are being determined on a regular basis by professing Christians. Such decisions are vital and will have a lasting impact on the spiritual lives of children and families.