Oh, how I love this time of year! The air is beginning to grow a little cooler, and a lot dryer. Kids are back to school. The grass does not seem to grow as fast. In just a few weeks the leaves will begin their yearly change to the gorgeous colors most of us love to see. Fishing is a lot more comfortable than it is in the dead of summer. But most of all, it is football season.
Being that I grew up in the Heart of Dixie, or Alabama as it is otherwise known, football is almost part of my genetic structure. One hears something about Alabama football or Auburn football on a daily basis. Okay, an hourly basis. My family lived in southern Tennessee for a few years, on both sides of the turn of this century. Tennessee football was very much a hot topic there at the time and it is beginning to be that again.
We moved here to South Carolina from north Florida this summer, where we had lived for three and a half years. Anybody that follows college football knows that Florida State is relevant again, so we got very accustomed to seeing Seminoles apparel, yard signs, car tags, bumper stickers…you get the idea…everywhere we went. There were University of Florida fans sprinkled here and there, too, but there were probably more Alabama fans than Florida fans in the Pensacola area where we lived. Now here we are in South Carolina. USC and Clemson is of course the rivalry that most people are a part of here.
It seems that everywhere I have lived in the south, football is big. Very big. In fact, it is such a large part of so many lives that is too big. Having spent most of my life there, I would venture to say that more time is spent each year in the state of Alabama reading blogs and publications that cover Alabama football and/or Auburn football than is spent reading the Bible.
I am unfortunately only referring to members of the Lord’s church who live there. Along with that, I have little doubt that many of those Christians spend much more money to cheer on their favorite football team in the four months of the season (five for professional football) than they contribute to the church for the whole year. Chances are that the same can be said for many here in South Carolina or any other state in the south.
Just a few days ago I read an article that highlighted what it costs to be an Alabama fan for this year. Of course, the writer implied that being a fan means that one must travel to each game, be it home, away, SEC championship game, the playoff or bowl game, and for the national championship game in January, if the Tide makes it to those last three. Including hotel, food, airfare, tickets, and other normal expenses, the total came to be a little over $8,000. That is for one person, for one year!
The New Testament teaches us that we are to give as we have prospered (1 Cor. 16:2). It also teaches to give as we have purposed in our heart (2 Cor. 9:6-7). It does not take a lot of reasoning to understand these verses. They are simple and straightforward. If God has blessed us with the circumstances and/or ability to prosper financially, He expects us to proportionately give back to Him. What portion that is He leaves up to the individual Christian. One cannot help but wonder if the proportion of a real fan’s giving on Sunday has risen at least as much as the same rate of his spending on Saturday. It should be greater.
Believe me, if I had the money, and the time, I would be tempted to be that type of Alabama fan the above mentioned article describes. I am not saying that I would do it, but I would be tempted. Hopefully, I would remember what are most important to me: the Lord, His church, and my family. As a Christian, which by definition means I am a member of the church of Christ, and as a husband and father, my priorities must be in that order.
By no stretch of the imagination does this mean that spending that much money to be a football fan is inherently wrong. If one has worked hard and made wise decisions that lead to accumulating wealth, then he should by all means enjoy it. God never meant for us to live our lives with no enjoyment or entertainment. In fact, in my opinion, it is good for us to have something in our lives about which we are passionate. The problem lies when we are more passionate about it than we are about God, His church, and our families. Let’s get our priorities in order and then enjoy the fruits of our success. May God continue to bless you. Oh, and Roll Tide!~B.W.P.