Football and God

I really do not mind if someone wants to publically display their religion, as long as they are not trying to force it on anyone else. I do not care if that religion is Christian or football. But when the two are combined…

The first time I heard someone argue that public prayer is “evil” was while I was living in Denver in 1989 and attended my first Skeptic Society meeting. Officially the meeting was in Glendale, a one-square mile town within the city limits of Denver… But I digress.

One gentleman was very upset with the Denver Broncos because one of their players, I do not remember who, pointed to the sky and preformed the sign of the cross on his chest in an acknowledgement to God for his touchdown. I just thought it was silly, it wasted time, and it diminished that individual’s self-confidence.

I am not a big fan of football in the first place. I have no allegiance to the Broncos, Jets, or Giants, to the Colorado Buffalos or the Missouri Tigers. I think football is a gladiator sport and not much different than multi-martial arts bouts – the offer to fans is brute force, injuries and possible death. And to pay someone millions of dollars to play a children’s game? That’s a whole other essay.

OK. Not everyone can be a world class runner of the 100-yards, able to leap tall defenders in a single bound, and fly through the air with the greatest of ease to catch an oblong ball. It takes a lot of self-discipline and hard work to cash-in on those talents. In fact, those talents would not be recognized if not for human intervention. That is the individual’s doing, not that of a super-natural entity.

Today, that weary mantle of sport and god has been taken up by the Denver Broncos’ Tim Tebow. I really don’t care if he wants to thank his god for being able to avoid a guaranteed loss in the last few minutes of the game. Bronco fans know very well that God did not help win the game – remember John Elway and three Super Bowls?

Now Tebow has become verb, “to tebow” and “tebowing,” a descriptor for dropping to one knee and praying to one’s god. Or at least replicate praying. Or just making fun of a very public sports figure.

It’s not that I do not like Tebow as a humanitarian and leader. He is both and his works are very much appreciated. However, he can accomplish the same acts of giving and caring if he were an atheist.

In fact, there are atheists who are quite wealthy, who truly contributed to the American economy who have given hundreds of millions of dollars to fight hunger, disease, and poverty. Can you say “Bill Gates?”

It is my belief that men and women who claim that their god somehow cherishes their team, or school, or nation above all other teams, or schools, or nations are out of touch with the reality that hard work, dedication, and self-awareness are the keys to success. Throw in a little “luck” and the chaos theory to round things out.

They seem to deny how these same qualities of human fortitude will be successful, or cured of disease, or being found alive and relatively unharmed after a natural or manmade disaster, without intervention of their version of supernatural intervention.

Yet, such public displays of religious fervor are also contrary to the Christian (and Jewish) faith(s). From Matthew 6: 5-7, Jesus said,

5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

Shame on those who do not follow the laws of their “Lord and Savior,” who have become the “hypocrites” that Jesus warned against. Today, instead of a street corner, these men and women are standing inside stadiums and are heard on radio and seen on television. And they babble on and on, ad nauseam.

In fact, many who remain theists and almost all those who are atheists will not just give up and give in to those unrelenting verbal attacks; we know that their insecurity and lack of self-esteem makes them fearful of the unknown.

I do not care if they wish to believe in their myths.

I do care if they are feigning their religious sincerity so they can not comply with the rules found in their sagas, attempting to pin the “blame” on everyone else, including me.

In fact, I do not care if their self-esteem is so low that their myths have become “real.”

I do care when those myths are being forced on me daily without a care that I think and believe differently.

My self-esteem is just fine, thank you. Yours?

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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