What football fans need to learn

Cheer for your team. As loudly as you’d like.
But don’t belittle the opposing team. It’s wrong.
Give respect to your opponent, not degradation. They are people, too.

Show school pride.
But don’t be proud.
Arrogance is ugly.

Don’t think you deserve the win.
Or are entitled to a title.
Humility wins the day, regardless of the scoreboard.

Any favor you have—even hard work and talented players—is a gift of grace.
As sure as it comes, it can surely go.
It’s not yours to brag on, but yours to gracefully steward.

The game isn’t in your control as much as you think.
You’re at the mercy of others. Of time. Of luck.
You are at the mercy of God; you don’t have him at the mercy of you.

Be competitive but kind.
Ambitious but merciful.
Opponents but friends.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

This applies not only to football.
Not only to sports.
But also to churches. To families. To individuals.

Eventually your team will lose.
Your spouse will argue.
Your body will fail.

Your health isn’t yours. Your relationships aren’t yours. Your religion isn’t yours.
All belong to God.
He’s letting you represent.

It’s God’s grace that will never end.
It’s his love that endures forever.
If you must brag, brag on that.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

As football fans of deep rivalries head into competition, including Auburn and Alabama gearing up for the Iron Bowl next Saturday, may neither fan base inflame the other into anger with excessive smack talk. Let’s have fun, but keep it respectful.

It’s possible.

Ask these two groups. Last Sunday the Auburn University Gospel Choir and the University of Alabama Afro-American Gospel Ensemble joined voices again for their yearly concert. For over twenty years they’ve come together to sing—odd years in Auburn, even years in Tuscaloosa—praising God in unison.

Not only is it possible, it is divine.

(If you can’t view the video, click here)

The LORD says, “The wise should not boast of their wisdom, nor the strong of their strength, nor the rich of their wealth.

If any want to boast, they should boast that they know and understand me, because my love is constant, and I do what is just and right. These are the things that please me. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (GNB)

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25 thoughts on “What football fans need to learn

    1. Lisa notes...

      I wonder why it’s so easy for us to forget that… We think if we eat right we’ll be immune to disease, or if we’re “smart” that we’re immune to ignorance, or if we communicate with our spouse we’ll not have marriage trouble, on and on…. And yes, there are things we can do–should do–to steward our circumstances, but we still can’t take credit for the outcomes.

  1. floyd

    Excellent reminder on how to play the game of life. After years of coaching it slowly came to me to pass on to the kids that winning isn’t measured my a number, it is measured across a lifetime… May we honor the One we serve in all aspects of our lives.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s a good coach, Floyd. I have quite a competitive streak in me so I have to be reminded often that winning or losing a game is irrelevant in the long run; it’s how we perceive it and honor the Father in our wins and losses that matter.

  2. Mia

    Dear Lisa
    During the Anglo-Boer wars in South Africa there was an old, wise general who prayed just before one of the battles. He told God that this there were of His children fighting on both sides and he, the general, thought it is best if God stayed out of this fight. And that is true in all of life my friend!
    Blessings XX

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ha. I hear you, Mia. I think God isn’t concerned with who comes out on top with numbers on a scoreboard. It’s our transformation into the image of his Son that he’s working on. (And often losing at a game is just what he can use to work on us.)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I don’t know if it will resonate with those in states that aren’t so crazy about sports but it’s definitely getting ugly here in Alabama so I need to hear myself saying that sports aren’t important in and of themselves. 🙂 As you said in your post, what matters is knowing who God is and how we matter to him!

  3. tcavey

    Love how you used that wonderful scripture from Jer. Great job! Very powerful post and excellent reminder that all things fade but the love God has for us. He never changes and that is something we can brag about!

  4. Nancy Franson

    Love the combined choirs! As you know, I wrote this week, too, about my longing to combine voices with the entire Body of Christ throughout eternity.

    But the football analogy? Ouch! You’re hitting me where it hurts! I often tell my friends that I think the highest and best use of social media is trash-talking one’s sports opponents 🙂 I had lots of fun with playful Facebook banter during the recent MLB playoff season. But, it was playful. And, at the end of the day, those who favor different teams remain my brothers and sisters in Christ (and, in one case, my sister in real life!)

    1. Lisa notes...

      I think the key word you used here, Nancy, is “playful” – I thoroughly enjoy that kind of banter too. As the only Auburn fan amongst all my Alabama siblings, I can either enjoy it or be miserable year-round. ha. So I enjoy it. 🙂

      But yes, when it gets down to it, who cares which school we pull for??? It’s definitely inconsequential in the long run. Who we are in Christ is all that matters.

  5. Tracy

    Hi Lisa, so true. Everything you have said here we see at sports games and interactions of a competitive nature. Also between siblings, family, church! The world’s ways have invaded everywhere. And doing things God’s way seems to be the oddity, the weird thing, to do! But, when we see things done Christ’s way, what an impact.
    Great post
    God bless

    1. Lisa notes...

      Thanks, Tracy. At first I was only thinking about football, but yes, the more I thought, the more I realized it applies to SO many areas of our lives where we get overly competitive, including even church. I’m certainly not claiming to be immune from any of those areas either, but I want to be.

  6. Barbara H.

    I so agree. It’s appalling how parents and coached can act even at children’s games. I’ve heard a saying something to the effect that your major competition (sports or otherwise) should be against yourself – it’s not about beating the other guy but about striving to the limits of your ability, relying on God’s grace and strength.

    1. Lisa notes...

      Oh, yes, let’s not forget children’s games–sometimes they bring out the very worst in people, unfortunately.

      I found it amusing last night at a high school basketball game that it was the mamas who were the most vocal by far. They didn’t yell at the other team (that was good!), but they certainly gave earfuls to the referees. And as the wife of a former referee, I’m very sensitive to that. 😉

  7. Shelly Miller

    Everyone in the south needs to read this, the fans here have redefined the word fanatic. I didn’t grow up with this kind of allegiance to football teams, it feels so uncomfortable to me. I wore a purple sweater with an orange necklace to church one Sunday to a new church and the greeter high-fived me, assumed I was a Clemson fan. I’ve never worn that outfit again.

    1. Lisa notes...

      So you know where I’m coming from, Shelly. The SEC fans can be some of the worst. I think it’s fun to love our teams, but when we hate other teams more than we love our own, there’s a problem.

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