So here's how it happened. A friend and I were chatting after church last Sunday and I kind of half-seriously blurted out that I should just skip football season this year. Did I mean it? Maybe. It's easy to say in April. But my friend sure took me seriously and now we're talking about doing it together. Can it be done? Is it wise? I believe so.
The reasons are many. First and foremost, football is a big fat idol that has taken up way too much of my life. I can watch hockey and baseball casually, even carry on a conversation with someone when a game is on, but not so with football. I've gone to great lengths to never miss a Vikings game for as long as I can remember. I've been forced to miss just a handful of games over the past three decades, but I always caught them on tape or had a radio handy.
1998...the Vikings went 15-1 that year and were scheduled to play the Buccaneers in week 8 which turned out to be their only loss of the year. My girlfriend's brother was getting married the day of the game and my girlfriend expected me to attend the wedding. I told her I had plans. She inquired as to what those plans were and I told her that the Vikings were playing the Bucs that day and they needed me. "Can't you tape the game?" she asked. "Can't you tape the wedding?" I responded. Needless to say, there was an empty seat at that wedding. If I had gone I'm sure I would have blamed myself for the loss.
Okay, my female readers may now take a moment to hate me. Go ahead and throw a shoe at your computer screen or something. Are you calmed down yet? Okay, moving along...
1988...the Vikings were scheduled to play the Bears on the last Monday night of the season. A win would put us in the playoffs. I got in trouble for talking back to my mom that week and my punishment was that I would have to miss the Vikings game. My dad unplugged my TV that night and forbade me from plugging it back in. But alas, the temptation was more than I could bear. Unfortunately I wasn't smart enough to unplug it again after the game was over.
2002...my buddy Nate decides to schedule his wedding on the same day as the Vikings/Dolphins game. Me and the rest of the groomsmen find ourselves huddling around a radio in an empty room in the church immediately before and after the ceremony, but we miss Gary Anderson's 53-yard game-winning field goal as time expires. We all agree that for this reason, Nate's marriage is cursed. (just kidding, buddy)
So, you get the idea. The time has come for me to find out where my true loyalties lie. I skipped one game on purpose last season and I survived, so I know that it's possible. But to skip an entire season seems unthinkable. How could I go week after week only hearing about the Vikings latest fourth-quarter collapse secondhand instead of suffering through it play by play? I must think through this a little further.
First of all, I want to avoid some of the natural tendencies that may accompany such a plan. I want to avoid the urge to think that God will somehow find me more acceptable if I do this. My righteousness is found in another sacrifice. But I do want to do it in a way that will be pleasing to God. I don't want to sweep out one demon and make way for seven more. It does me no good to skip football every week if I fill up the extra time going to the casino or watching porn. To obey is better than sacrifice. My goal is to remove a potential obstacle to obedience.
Secondly, I want to avoid easing my withdrawls by putting a guilt trip on others who do not care to join me, like people who quit drinking and look down their noses at other Christians who have a beer at the ballpark. I still think football is good and the glory of God shines through it in many ways. I still think it is wise to raise your kids with lots of sports in their life provided it doesn't turn into a big fat golden calf like it is for me. I want to do this to ween myself off of my passion for anything that is not God, not because I think football is a sin.
Thirdly, I'm not going to do anything stupid like making a vow to God that I won't watch one single play all year because I know that I am weak and I may accidentally flip by the wrong channel or walk into the wrong room and then I'll feel horrible. I'd rather just let my yes be yes and say that this is the plan I aim to carry out and it is dependent upon God's grace alone.
Fourthly, I just like to take on challenges, and this definitely qualifies as one. This will be even more difficult than the time I gave up purse-snatching for Lent. I know that if I make it to February by God's grace without watching a single game it will feel really good. I think that only good things can come from it. Who knows...I might even find myself a wife by the end of the year.
And so it is settled. For God's glory, and my joy, and with God's help, I am officially going to do it. I am counting on you, Dear Blog Reader, to keep me accountable and refer me back to this post if I mess up.
Here are the rules (which may be updated slightly after I have a chance to consult my friend on the matter):
- No watching any live NFL football games all season.
- No listening to any live NFL football games all season.
- No taping any NFL football games all season.
- No attending any NFL football games all season. (It just occurred to me that this means that my ten-year streak of visiting a new NFL stadium each year is going to end.)
No checking scores on the internet during games.
- No calling people just to get updates of live NFL games.
- No hanging around the Metrodome on gameday just to soak up the atmosphere.
- If I make it through the year without watching a single game, I may be allowed to watch the Super Bowl.
- UPDATE: The cable gets cut in August. No ESPN, no Sportscenter, no Chris Berman.
If you can think of any more let me know.
Hmm...this is one of those posts where it's really hard to hit the publish button. I'm still mulling it over right now. But I must do it. This is the perfect year for it anyway as the Vikings are all set to go 2-14 and probably have the worst season in franchise history. But wouldn't that just prove that God has a sense of humor if they end up winning the Super Bowl this year?