When did the fan base of a sports team become a nation? I was given a game schedule recently for a university that you would know well and it proudly called this team’s nation to action. I first heard of a fan base being referred to as a nation a few years ago by a group of fanatical sports types in professional football. I thought it was something that only happened out on the West Coast. Now, it seems that every team has a nation that is following them.
Last year I had the chance to travel to New York to attend a professional football game. The game featured a huge rivalry and the debut of Brett Favre in his first, of many, revolving uniforms. I was overwhelmed at the spectacle of the thousands of fans and their gigantic emotional response to every single play. These fans spent their entire Sunday outside of the stadium, inside the stadium and on their way home from the stadium. Their investment was not Sunday alone, mind you, as I listened to them talk I realized they had spent countless hours learning statistics and other facts about both teams playing in the game. Their investment was not time alone, either. They had greatly invested in clothing, hats, blankets, jewelry, and, don’t forget, face paint.
Listen, I like sports. I’ve played sports nearly all of my life. All year long I look forward to coaching my kids in various sports. But there seems to be something dangerous about our fascination with a recreational event when it takes on the status of being called a nation. As you prepare for the bowl season and the madness that comes in the spring, take an inventory of your commitment level to your team and then measure it against your commitment to your family or your faith. I know we would never believe that our hobbies carry more weight in our lives than our families or our faith, but it’s worth your consideration. Do you spend more time preparing to watch the big game or encouraging your wife? As you think of all of those stats you have stored in your head I wonder how they measure up to your knowledge of the Words of our Creator. When you hold the accomplishments of a magical October Classic or the joy of March Madness in light of eternity, how much weight should they carry in your life? Go ahead and cheer, but don’t lose sight of the most important things in life.