On Sports, Religion, and Escapism (and Perhaps a Bit More)
So, yes, I'm ranting. Hopefully not incoherently but ranting all the same. And since it does not always seem to be clear that my journal contains my opinions, then please be forewarned that my journal contains my opinions. You're welcome to disagree but please do try to be civil about it.
So yesterday, I watched both the AFC and NFC championships in football. And something struck me that I've noticed before and has annoyed me, but I've never thought much of it. When accepting the trophy for the Colts, their owner claimed that the victory was mostly to credit to "the Lord." Now I have a feeling that he was talking about "the Lord" as in "God" or "Jesus Christ" and not "the Lord" as in "the Lord of Caves" or "the Lord of Illusions" or "the Lord of the Dance." Though I could be wrong.
Of course, there was a round of applause in the stadium because whenever we mention the Lord or Jesus, we get applause. How brave, in America, to mention our affiliation with the majority religion! This prompted me to inform Bobby that if I'm ever in a position where I get to accept something before a large crowd of people (aside from a much-deservéd ass-whoopin'), then I think that I'm going to give thanks to some of the neglected religious figures. Like Bastet or Buddha. Or maybe make up my own or maybe thank the Valar, just to see if people applaud.
But my own bizarre fantasies aside, why do people do this in sports? "Well, I'm not to credit for throwing a 400-yard game. It was all Jesus." Yeah. Like Jesus is sitting up in heaven, looking down with fingers crossed and saying, "OMG I hope the Colts win!" Or "Let the Colts win...and they did." Frankly, if God and Jesus do exist, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they don't really give a shit who wins the Super Bowl much less who wins the conference championships much less if Matt Stover makes that tough fifty-one-yard field goal.
But when the Colts won yesterday--and I do not mean to pick entirely on the Colts because all of the teams do it--then first He Who Shall Not Be Named (the Colts' owner) gave credit to God, then Tony Dungy gave credit to God, then Peyton Manning admitted that he said a prayer asking for success before the game-winning drive. He said (and I am paraphrasing here because I'm too lazy too look up a transcript), "I don't know if it's the right thing to pray for, but I did say a little prayer." So I guess we should all thank God that the Colts won the AFC game because apparently He ordained it so.
Maybe I don't understand this, being agnostic, but it puzzles me sometimes the things that people pray for. Or attribute to God. Like, "God will provide for us by getting back our big screen TV!" Yeah, 'cause God would hate for you to miss the last five episodes of the O.C. Or praying to do well in a football game. Because God is either a Colts fan or just as tired of seeing the Patriots in the Super Bowl as I am.
It seems to me that if a person is going to take the time and expend the effort to get down on bended knee and ask God for something really important...then maybe it should be important? Not big-screen TVs or new kitchens or a Super Bowl ring. I remember when I was a little kid and I used to say my prayers every night simply because I was told that's what I was supposed to do, then I used to say...
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy, God bless Uncle Wodie, God bless Sharon, God bless Moose, God bless Sunnie, God bless Petie, God bless Sneaky, God bless Digit, God bless Julia, God bless Julia's family, God bless Lisa, God bless Lisa's parents, God bless everything and everyone. Amen.
...every night. As I got older and got more friends and more pets, the list got progressively longer. Everyone got blessed every night. But one thing that I remember that my mom used to tell me: you don't pray for things. You don't pray, "God, I would like a pair of gold earrings shaped like sea turtles" or "God, let me get an A on my algebra test."
I suppose that it irks me that these people obviously believe in God and obviously believe in the power of prayer, and they choose to pray for things. Things things things. It reminds me of the old Northern Sun T-shirt, "I'm ready for more THINGS please!" As though THINGS have the power to really make us happy.
The people living around me in their $4 million homes with three BMWs and housekeeper and pool boy but who work eighty hours a week and never see their families and never get to do anything that they want to do...well, they have lots of nice THINGS but they are not happy. Honestly, THINGS get on my nerves sometimes, like "I never speak to you, never call or email to see how you're doing, don't even know what you like, but I bought you some THINGS for Christmas to clutter up your home, so you know that I care!" Bah, but that is a rant for another time.
Anyway. I will openly admit that I am a sports fan and quite a rabid one; I am one of those nuts you see on TV with her face painted (though I do keep my shirt on) and carrying on like a fool. But I would not pray for my teams to win, even if I did pray.
I may be a face-painting nut but even I will admit that people take it much too far sometimes. Sure, sports is a form of escapism for me; I could direct my attention and energy toward far more productive and important avenues, but I choose to care about who wins and who trash talks whom; maybe I am no better than those on bended knee, "Oh please God let the Ravens win!" Maybe I'm a hypocrite. But some people still take it too far, like when I
And I'm sitting in my office, thinking, I really don't like Diane. She's either too lazy or too stupid to figure out how to use her fax machine, so she calls me every time she needs to send a fax, like I'm her personal slave, and she sounds spastic on the phone, and she hasn't figured out that she has to hold down the button on the two-way the whole time she talks, so when she calls me, it comes out as, "Blip." I don't like her--and I certainly know her better than she knows Peyton Manning--but you don't see me going over to Johnny's office and saying, "I can't stand Diane. I hope that she's in a car accident on her way back over the bridge and breaks her leg."
So why is it okay to wish pain and misery upon a professional athlete based on a more-than-twenty-year grudge that Baltimorons have against the Colts? And a grudge is one thing, but to openly wish harm upon another person simply because you don't like his team--and perhaps more important than that, think that the twenty-plus-year grudge somehow makes that acceptable?
So I'm all for a bit of escapism every now and then--through sports or whatever--but sometimes people simply take it too far. Like the fate of humanity hangs in the balance on any given Sunday.