Let’s Kill Football

After Monday night’s game featuring the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, former NFL quarterback and current commentator Steve Young had this to say about the replacement referees currently filling in for their striking counterparts:

“Player safety? Doesn’t matter in this case. Bringing in Division III officials? Doesn’t matter. Because in the end, you’re still going to watch the game…there’s nothing that changes the demand for the NFL.  So they want to break the union or send a message to them, they don’t care about player safety. It doesn’t affect the desire for the game. If it affected the desire for the game, they’d come up with a few extra million dollars.”

The cold hard dollar and America’s addiction to football are realities in today’s sports world.  But it goes beyond replacement refs.  It has to do with the NFL’s issues with regard to players’ health and safety (read: concussions) even when the game is played under the best conditions.  It has to do with the vast amounts of money tied up in advertising and television contracts that make the sport sacrosanct.  It has to do with hordes of rabid fantasy football fans that care more about the numbers on their computer screen and the bragging points they can get after a good week than the actual human beings that create those numbers.  Football is our new god.

Panem et circenses.  The NFL is rapidly becoming victim to the worst parts of cold capitalism and a base human nature that would rather be entertained than consider reality.  For many in America, football (and/or sports in general) is transforming into the only religion that really matters.  So let us together call it what it often is: a garish, greed-based, gladiatorial idol.  We forget, of course, that football as sport is supposed to be re-creation, not actual Creation or the Creator Himself.

For all these reasons….perhaps, my friends, it is time to considering ending it–for our own good.  That’s slowly becoming my fantasy.


7 comments on “Let’s Kill Football

  1. Anna says:

    The cover story of the Christian Century this week takes on the idolatry of football.


  2. wcosnett says:

    Hmmm. I’ll have to think more on this, but my initial response is that football is more the symptom than the cause. If we got rid of football, my feeling is that people would just switch over to baseball, or hockey, or MMA. People will find another excuse to not attend church, something else to spend their time on. The problem with gluttony isn’t that food exists, its that someone spends all their time focused on food. Smashing in idol does no good without addressing the reason in peoples hearts for idolatry in the first place, since there is always another idol.

    • Will,

      As always, you do a good job complicating matters in a helpful way. There is always another idol, absolutely. I just suppose that through my eyes football has become more and more insidious over time. Its Sunday-centric focus also adds a bit to my ire over this idol. Your points are apropos, however.

      Maybe my thoughts are less having to do with idolatry and more to do with co-option of our religious instincts by a sport. It can happen in other places, yes…but I think it does definitely happen in football.

      When I said “kill” I was probably speaking a bit provocatively. Maybe a better way to say it is more pastorally: “Simmer down on all that football love and remember what’s really important!”

  3. Viletta Knight says:

    Great point, Dr. Ziefle! I ask often why people (Christians in particular) are so hung up on football – every level from kids to high school to college and professional. It really is JUST a game, but the amount of energy and money Americans put into it is amazing! If Christians gave just 1/2 of the money they spend on NFL tickets to missions, what a difference that would make.

    And then there’s the “Tim Tebow” effect. This guy is a young man who’s a Christian who just happens to be good at football. That doesn’t make him an apostle or anything. Yes, I think for many, it is as important as church attendance and for others, it’s like more important. Kind of a sad commentary, I think.

  4. Zebb S. says:

    I don’t understand why it has to be all or nothing. I have no problem balancing my love for God with my love for football. I typically go to church in the morning and then go to a football game in the afternoon. I have no qualms to say that God comes first and foremost in my life and football happens to be a passion of mine. I understand your point about those outside the church (and to an extent many of those inside), but as a previous poster pointed out, if it weren’t football, it would be something else (see Auto Racing). It’s all about who or what is tops in your life.

    I actually enjoy the Tebow effect. Now there’s Russell Wilson. The more outspoken Christians there are the better. Philippians 1:18 Not to imply at all that either of these two mentioned aren’t genuine about their faith, I’m just saying that it’s a good thing the more Christ and faith are mentioned in the mainstream media.

    People enjoy movies, music, whatever your passion. Football just seems to be the biggest scapegoat out there right now because it’s the most prominent.

    I appreciate your blog posts.

    Go Hawks! 🙂

    • Zebb,

      I hear you, man. I’ve been a part of a fantasy football league for over a decade now….I’m just really raising questions about it. I’ve had concerns for some time.

      I don’t mind that people like sports…I’m just worried about people’s interests getting too focused on them, and football in particular being so prominent makes it the biggest offender.

      I’m not impugning anyone that likes sports…just a warning that football has a tendency to get out of hand, it seems.

      I meant nothing personal and agree that there are many faithful Christians that are big football fans.

      And I, of course, have other interests that can get out of hand as well. But with the NFL being so big these days (and fantasy, etc.) and we’re becoming aware of how dangerous it is…I wonder if it is worth it.

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