I missed this year’s Super Bowl. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this tradition, the Super Bowl is the name given (and trade-marked– that’s why this post’s title is the “Big Game”) to the national championship game for American Football each year. The tradition is as old as I am– 57 years–and each year, it gets nearly as much hype as the World Cup (Football in most of the rest of the world!)
Though I missed watching the game, I have some reflections to share about it:
- While it is an important sporting event for anyone interested in American Football, it is not (for most of us) a life-changing, “Super” anything. I have not watched a Super Bowl game in many years, and my life is every bit as rich and full as it was in years when I did watch. The teams come and go, the players change, and the even the most exciting plays will be largely forgotten in the coming years (except for what gets re-played on “highlights”). It is a Big game. But it is not real life, and it is not THE Big event of anyone’s life– even the players will have other events (marriage, the birth of a child, the death of a parent, etc.) that will compete with the three hours spent one Sunday in February on a football field.
- Football is divided into two halves (four quarters, to be exact). In between the two halves is a period known as “Half Time.” This is a curious ritual. The two teams get about a half hour to rest, reflect, strategize, and regroup before the second half of the game. Meanwhile, the fans get treated to an entertainment. In high school and college football, this is usually a chance for the marching band to show off. It has a military flavor, with drums, flags, formations, and cheerleaders all getting the crowd enthused for the “home team.” But there is no “Home” team for a Super Bowl. The teams play in a neutral location. So the “halftime” entertainment is like a condensed rock concert. The entertainment has nothing to do with the game at hand, and has no clear purpose.
- The Super Bowl is televised, and corporations, public service groups, and other interests spend millions of dollars to buy advertising rites, and millions more dollars creating what they hope will be memorable ads to be shown during this window of high visibility. Tickets for the live event are expensive, but millions of people are watching on TV from their homes, or at sports bars or special “Super Bowl” parties.
- Super Bowl Parties are a huge “thing.” Fans spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on special food, decorations, venues, team-related clothing and other “gear.”
I am not a big football fan, so I don’t understand a lot of the hype. I don’t begrudge anyone the fun of watching and enjoying sporting events, but I wonder about some of the emphasis placed on this event. What would happen if:
- People spent the same kind of energy, time, or money on strengthening their family, or building up their community, or spreading the gospel?..There are “Real life” events that are far more important and urgent than a football game– especially one in which we are mere spectators–that should cause us to clear our schedule, make preparations, and keep us riveted. How many people can recall cheering on a new bride and groom, or a high school graduate or a recovering addict or a new Christian with even a tenth of the excitement they give to a groups of players they’ve never met or spoken to, for a game that has no lasting impact on their own life, their family or community?
- Only those people who were actual football fans attended the Super Bowl or Super Bowl Parties? How many people are spending money, time, and energy on something they don’t even really care about, because of the “shiny” extras on the periphery– the snacks, the Halftime Show, being the “first” to see the newest ads, being part of “the fun”, going along with the “in” crowd?”
- Churches, schools, charities, etc., could garner similar commitment and excitement from their members and communities? What if we could generate the same kind of money and enthusiasm to fill food banks or send relief to those impacted by hurricanes or earthquakes? What if prayer meetings and tent revivals broke attendance records? What if graduation parties and anniversary parties were as elaborate as Super Bowl Parties?
Just some thoughts. As I said above, I missed the Super Bowl this year…I don’t know what I might have enjoyed, or what memories I might have had. I much prefer the memories I have of spending time with grandkids, or celebrating special birthdays with friends and family, or helping plan a graduation party for my niece and nephew, or sharing the joy of a baptism. To me, that is Super way to spend a day.
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