Aren’t you excited? The Superbowl is tomorrow!
OK, I know, most of you probably don’t care. I know I don’t; tomorrow is a lab prep day for me, and I’ll be setting up fly stocks all afternoon. I don’t even know who is playing, and I don’t really care. Some of you might, and that’s all right — my father was a big football fan, although he couldn’t abide the Superbowl since, for all the hype, they were usually poor games — so if you choose to relax with friends and beer and watch the show, it is fine by me.
Here’s something I do find interesting, though. One of the petty annoyances of American sports is their ridiculous religiosity. There are always these showboating athletes who piously announce that their greatest triumphs are due to divine intervention (strangely, when they fumble, they don’t afterwards shake their fists at the heavens and curse their gods). It’s absurd that they believe their omnipotent deity is at all concerned about whether one team wins or another loses, but it’s common background noise at these events.
For the first time, though, I’m encountering media articles that are critical of these god-wallopers.
Does God care who wins? There are few things regarding religion that approach consensus, but it’s fair to say that most of us concur with FoxSports.com columnist Mark Kriegel, who recently wrote, “I refuse to believe that God –anyone’s God — has a rooting interest in the outcome of something as secular and perverse as a (football) game.”
And here’s an editorial where the writer just wishes they’d knock off the public god talk.
Forget the arrogance of that assumption for a moment — God is with only me. There’s something else. I assume some Pittsburgh Steelers are God-fearing men. They can’t all be heathens. So whom does God root for in the Super Bowl, the Cardinals or the Steelers?
And with wars going on all over the world and starvation and an economic collapse, with so much to attend to, does God have leisure to root at all?
Do we believe in a shallow, superficial God? God the Sports Fan?
None of these critics are saying this because they’re atheists who disbelieve this nonsense, don’t get me wrong; they all seem to be saying that these superficial attributions all trivialize faith. But they are at least doing us the favor of pointing out that these are secular games, and they’re a bit embarrassed at the silly piety. It’s a step forward, at least. Next step, point and laugh.