Sara: Last Saturday, Justin and I had the opportunity to see my alma mater, the Bearcats, play football against the school where he teaches. Typically, with football, we manage to agree on who to root for. Each year, we have a “civil war” for a few hours as our teams duke it out.
Justin: Her team usually wins so she doesn’t take the civil war as seriously as I do (in fact this is the first time my team has won since I have known Sara). This year we won, so it was good to see if Sara could be gracious in defeat! She normally rubs it in when her team wins. I, on the other hand, was a very gracious winner!
Sara: If you say so. In addition, his alma mater, the University of Alabama played LSU in one of the biggest games of Alabama’s season.
Before I met Justin, I really didn’t appreciate football. As you may recall, Justin actually bribed me to like football by taking me out for lunch when his teams were playing for the first year or two of our courtship. Slowly, I began to appreciate the sport, although I freely admit I’ll never be as big of a football fan as he is.
Saturday morning, Justin and I began to prepare for these big games. Because Justin was nervous about the Alabama game, he changed shirts at least twice before determining which shirt was the “luckiest.” Since I only own one Alabama shirt, I didn’t have the same difficulties.
After we got to the game, I was very impressed to see the zeal of my alma mater school, as a division two school, in tailgating and cheering both before and during the game. As an undergrad, I really didn’t attend many football games because I just wasn’t that interested in football. However, even so, I was happy to hear the old Bearcat cheers even though I was sitting on the sidelines for Justin’s university. I realized how proud I am to be a Bearcat!
During the game, I began to think about how seriously both Justin and I as individuals and our nation take the game of football. We have rituals before each and every game, including tailgating, announcing our players, and more. In addition, each team has its own rituals – cheers, traditions (such as the student section not sitting down until after the Bearcats score their first touchdown), and more. Not only do we have rituals – we are VERY serious about these rituals. Justin and I “prepare” for the Alabama games each week by watching a specific video on You-Tube that reminds Justin of the good times of Alabama football. We wear special clothing (our team colors) and make great food to eat either before or during the game.
As I was reflecting, I realized it could be argued that Justin and I have stronger traditions surrounding our football teams than we do surrounding our Catholic faith. Yes, we do go to Mass each and every Sunday (or Saturday vigil), but do we take time to hype ourselves up for Mass like we do for the Alabama football game? Justin spent at least ten minutes pondering what he should wear for the big Alabama game, but often we grab the first clean outfit we can find for Sunday Mass. We cook special food during the football games, but how often do we choose not to cook a big meal on Sunday to celebrate the Sabbath?
There’s nothing wrong with loving football. In fact, I think it’s a great pastime. However, this weekend’s games have made me reflect on how we can keep the proper balance and perspective in pastimes and our spiritual life.
Justin: Roll Tide!