Super Bowl Sunday. I could easily ignore this strictly American phenomenon and pass on the game without a mention. I am not an avid sports fan, although I do enjoy watching a well-played game on occasion. I grew up in an era when baseball was The Great American Sport. In many ways, baseball is still the greatest sport played in this country, but it is clear that football has supplanted it as King of Sports in America.
The spectacle that a very high percentage of people in this country will find themselves united in watching this evening is grandiose beyond description. Every facet of the broadcast from the introduction, through the game itself, the half-time gala, and the presentation of the spoils of war at the finale will be over the top. It is so designed. The intent of all who planned and all who participate is to assault our eyes and ears with stimuli above and beyond.
Yet even as we are politically divided as a nation, we will be a divided unity, so to speak, in support of the heroes of the turf. For no game can be played without the taking of sides. I surprised myself a few minutes ago in talking with my brother-in-law, for it seems that I do know who the opponents shall be tonight. It isn’t that I really care, but rather a fact of life. Our fixation on sports and the “heroes” who engage therein is such that we are flooded with information that we often do not seek.
Paul wrote, “Don’t you know that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain.” (I Corinthians 9:24) And so it is with this spectacle, for even during the pre-season last summer, every team in the NFL had its eye set on the prize. And yet, this evening, but one of them will be crowned Champion of the World.
And again, an admonition that we are given to apply in our spiritual life, may apply to the combatants in this final football showdown of the year. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) To each team, set aside every impediment and play patiently. (Oh, yes, I know that there are fans for whom razzle-dazzle and showmanship trumps patience and hard work, but that is not the winning way.)
Paul also told us (one of my favorite scriptures) “Physical exercise profits little.” (I Timothy 4:8) Okay, perhaps with the exception of the hard work it takes for the gladiators whose goal it is to win a championship. Yet the crux of the matter is contained in the rest of the verse, which says, “But godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” So in the combining of physical exercise with godliness we all may find gain.
Good luck, football players; happy times, football fans. Have a great evening. I’ll probably be watching a movie.