By: Maurice K Dixon
“Let us begin our praise and worship service.”
Well, these aren’t the exact words, but due to synonymous actions, it translates into an accurate statement. As usual, this portion of service is held on Sunday mornings, but just from September to the end of the year. Those in attendance normally clap, raise their hands and lift their voices in unison.
However, this service does not contain a closing speaker (i.e. bishop, pastor), a choir, a voluntary offering or worst of all the presence of a Bible.
Oh, I apologize! I failed to mention this ain’t no church service. It’s an NFL stadium.One filled with thousands of onlookers for 16 weeks for three hours on Sundays. A place where people are moved by “spirits” instead of the Spirit. And this is liable to occur in the parking lot.
Fans who physically cannot attend service don’t sleep in, but they watch via sports bar or the nearest big screen with the NFL Sunday Ticket package. These venues produce cheering and possibly the beginning of new friendships, but that is where the comparisons between church service and service end.
All over the stands, fans are right on the verge of berating the players, especially those who regularly disappoint with phrases like, “Hey, QB, I wish you were never born.” This example is toned down and free of obscenities which flow freely depending on the individual’s blood-alcohol level. Such a great way to address those linked to something you idolize! Wouldn’t you agree?
And if this emotional rollercoaster does not end on a high note, the fanatic, who invested all this time and energy into the game while seeing themselves as part of the team, is deeply saddened for much of the afternoon. Unfortunately, some have to leave service miles from feeling uplifted.
A real service sends you out the door feeling happy, joyful, grateful, redeemed, refocused and prepared to press towards the goal, not melancholy, betrayed, disgusted or frustrated like a child who has yet to learn how to handle defeat. Letdown is not a product of Sunday service and never should be, further stressing my point: extremists must draw a line between religion and sports.
Or maybe the fans don’t deserve all the blame. Fingers definitely could be pointed at the media – television (ESPN), radio and newspapers – which pumps good, bad and overblown information into its viewers, listeners and readers on a daily basis, including hours before kickoff like all sorts of newsworthy events have taken place. How redundant?
But, I guess these outlets are just giving the audience what it seems to be craving the most since fans yearn for the start of the season before summer officially begins, exaggerate preseason records and hold unnecessary draft parties.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching the NFL and appreciate all the unique talents its players put on display from the big hits, evasive moves, and great catches to the controversial end zone celebrations. It is natural to cheer and support a team, but the idolization and prioritization of one is where the problem lies.
In total disobedience of God’s law, the people of Israel decided to worship a gold calf in their day and age. Nowadays, the NFL is that idol and too many fans are occupying its temple.