The Power of Football

Power of Football

Texas A&M vs. Auburn Oct 2015

I’m a Texan. Born here, went to college here, still live here. When the air turns crisp and no one can breathe because of all the ragweed in the air, something magical happens.

Football.

Football is a religion in Texas. You can worship Friday night (high school), all day Saturday and sometime Thursday night (college), and Sunday and Monday (pros). People change which church service they attend depending on what time the Texans/Cowboys play on Sunday. Out of town trips revolve around away games. Children are banished to the upstairs TV so parents can eat chips and queso and yell for their team. And if the game is really big, sometimes you don’t invite other people over so that you can be grumpy and yell at the refs and coaches without anyone to witness your bad behavior.

What is it about football or any other professional sport that inspires such fantastic fanatics?

Coming together with >104,000 of my closest friends.

Coming together with >104,000 of my closest friends.

As creatures, we were created for a purpose–to worship our Creator. To come together as a group for fellowship and to cheer for the good guys. To lend our voices to proclaiming Truth: that in the end, our team will be triumphant.

We need to believe in something larger than ourselves. We crave the camaraderie that comes from like-minded individuals. The Aggies have a saying:

“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

That’s a good descriptor for Christianity too, isn’t it?

Some would argue that football is an idol. That can be true, but it depends on the individual. There is a power behind football that, like anything else, can be used for good or for evil.

This past Monday, I went to see the movie Woodlawn with some of our church staff.

Coming off the Aggie’s first loss of the season to the University of Alabama, it was a bit hard to watch such a pro-Bama movie, but who doesn’t admire Bear Bryant?

Woodlawn does a marvelous job of integrating the draw of football with the power of the Gospel to show how Jesus can turn around any situation and person.

The movie is based on a TRUE STORY. This isn’t one of those made-up football teams and fantasy premises. This is how a football team’s conversion healed an entire city in Alabama’s racial wars in the early 1970’s. This is how people in the right position can look past society’s biases and stand up for God’s truth to bring powerful change.

Woodlawn is funny, entertaining, and inspiring. I can’t say enough good things about it. Go and see it while it’s still in the theaters. We need more movies like this.

NOW YOU: Favorite sport? Favorite team?

Where’s the Passion?

JackIsOurHero When I read fiction, I try to guess the author’s passions.  Or on which side he stands regarding issues in his story.

That happened last month when I read The Appeal by John Grisham. It was tremendous fun to look for clues concerning his personal feelings about the two sides of a fictitious legal case and the events surrounding it. Like seasonings in a gumbo, his political sympathies (he is a former Mississippi state legislator)  flavored the plot and the characters–exactly how I like it to be in a novel.

Whether I agree with the opinions of a fiction author or not, or align with his causes, I expect one or more of his passions to be revealed in his story.

I can usually distinguish between a story element carefully researched (but neither loved nor loathed) and one the author has experienced that has deeply affected him. And fiction is so much more exciting when the latter happens.

In my debut novel, Bird Face, it will probably be obvious to readers that I love dogs and creative people. And as I’ve gotten to know my Scriblerian partners on a personal level, I’ve learned of their passions, which I see woven into their manuscripts.

What love or loathing have you incorporated into a piece of fiction you’ve written, and how did you do it? Is it subtle or obvious? Whether flash fiction, short story, or novel–soon to be published or a work in progress–please share and feel free to mention the title.

cynthia-toney