Elvis, Jesus, & Football
The things we don’t do often shape us as much as the things we do experience. Our family never sat down and watched a football game on TV, nor did we drive to my high school an hour away to sit on cold bleachers under the Friday night lights. Organized sports were barely existent in our life, largely due to our longstanding tradition of uncommon fun. It goes back to my grandfather’s era when he and his buddies rode wild spirited cows for sport. My parents’ creative recreation involved Dad and his siblings riding a rickety handmade wooden wagon down the hill until it fell apart near the bottom. They also threw rocks at hornet’s nests. Mom recalls recess games like hide-and-seek, baseball, hopscotch, draw base, and bear base. One of the fun things my generation did during fifth grade rainy-day recess was dance to Elvis records. If the day was sunny, we’d go outside and play Four Square…or peel paint off the fence (which sounds a bit lack-luster now that I say it). When competitive sports were introduced into the school plan, I found myself standing out in right field praying the ball didn’t come to me. We also had a girls’ basketball team (if all seven of us girls played). We wore white Converse high top sneakers with no arch support and my glasses fogged up when I sweat. All this to say for someone limited in sports it has been most interesting to make recent observations from the outside looking in.
It was a glorious Sunday when the Cincinnati Bengals won the playoff game sending us to the Super Bowl! The entire city came alive and joyful! That next day nobody even cared it was a Monday and everyone was talking to each other and laughing! A guy stocking grocery shelves and I had a giddy conversation about the game in the dairy aisle. “How about those Bengals?!” “Think we’ll win the Super Bowl?” “There’s always hope!” And strangers across this great nation greeted each other with a “Who Dey” as our collective battle cry. I continue to shake my head and marvel at the unbelievable power of football to boost morale and to bring humanity together. It’s almost spiritual.
I’m not the first to connect sports with faith. In the late 70’s Bobby Bare sang a catchy little tune called Drop Kick Me, Jesus (Through The Goalposts Of Life). During a game, there are always questions about penalties and players, but as my loved ones explain the “doctrine”, the more invested I become. For this Super Bowl, I even bought a Bengals shirt for Pete’s sake! Spirit ware can be another element to consider. Am I wearing my Christian SPIRIT-wear? Is it holey? Holy? Or Wholly?...and am I wearing it inside out?
Jesus lived it and Elvis sang it-- I Can Help because of A Little Thing Called Love. When the Bengals lost the Super Bowl some people got All Shook Up and checked into the Heartbreak Hotel. Some just wanted to Make The World Go Away. But standing in the Early Morning Rain Monday after the Super Bowl I Got A Feelin In My Body that there is a master game plan and we’ve Got A Lot Of Livin To Do!
The LA Rams’ wide receiver, Cooper Kupp shared in an interview after they won how he had a vision from God three years earlier in which his team would win a Super Bowl and he’d be the MVP of the game, which he was. Knowing which team was going to win allowed him to play free, and as he put it, “from victory not for victory”. Now if we’re able to survive March Madness, Easter is coming--We can live free because we know who wins! And that, my friends, is the most beautiful Unchained Melody you’re ever going to hear.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel