Game May Violate What It Means To Be A Good Christian
On Sunday, over 100 million people will watch the Philadelphia Eagles battle the New England Patriots at Super Bowl 52. The game is intimately tied to Christianity. Many Christians watch the game, players will thank God for winning, and you can find numerous churches that will change their schedule or give supportive messages to the team.
But is there a contradiction in Christians supporting the game? Could any support for the Super Bowl actually go against Christian doctrine?
The first issue is the support of violence. Football is an extremely dangerous sport. Both teams are inflicting maximum damage on each other. Medical studies have shown that nearly all NFL players suffer serious brain damage and there is the recent discovery that even in practice there is the issue of mini-concussions occurring, causing irreparable harm. The Bible has numerous references to avoiding violence, both to others and ourselves “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.”
There is also the problem of sexual violence that occurs during the Super Bowl. Every city that hosts the game has huge spikes in human trafficking and prostitution. Therefore, the game creates a space for violence to occur that must be directly countered with the same pitch as supporting the game itself.
Pope Francis has talked about the dangers of “throwaway culture.” He identifies that we ignore long-term harm and have a singular focus on the present. What could be a better example than football? Players we celebrate for their physical achievement and then ignore when they leave the game where the majority will become broke, homeless or drug addicts with incurable physical and mental injuries that both damage themselves and those around them.
The gross commercialism of the Super Bowl also may be the essence of idolatry. A 30-second commercial costs at least $5 million dollars. The commercials themselves have become a large part of the attention for the game. Does this attention paid away from God, and shifting of focus amount to the creation of graven images? The fact that this occurs on the holy day of the Sabbath seems to increase the weight of the issue. And it is not like the NFL supports religion. The NFL has legally threatened churches that show the game, stating that any establishment that shows it on a screen larger than 55 inches is a form of illegal broadcasting.
If you believe in God then the game is not determined by the players, is it by His will. We toss the coin, but it is the Lord who controls its decision.” Therefore, is there a point to watching the game. It supports gambling, human trafficking, ignoring the Sabbath, violence, dehumanization, and idolatory. While some sites have given advice on how to pray during the game to dutifully follow your faith, it would seem a better idea to focus on self reflection and spiritual meditation. If that makes you worried or wince at the prospect of choosing, maybe that proves the point.