Well, most of the world got their wish on Sunday night as the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl 52. That being said, there probably wasn’t anyone in Greensboro happier than Mercy Hill pastor and Philly native, Jeremy Dager. However, as another football season has come to an end, I can’t help but think about all of the energy and emotion that fans pour into their teams each and every year. Whether you’re an Eagles fan, or unfortunately pull for the winless Cleveland Browns, each year football teams get our full support. However, as Christians, we need to think a little deeper about our fandom.
The Longing in Our Fandom
There is something in the way people are fans of sports teams that is nothing less than idolatrous. Often I don’t want to accept that, but it’s hard to deny. Football fans have weekly rituals: they wear their team’s gear, they yell and cheer during games, and they listen to podcasts and keep up with news throughout the week. Pastor Andrew has even compared Green Bay Packers fans being shirtless in freezing temperatures at games to Christians who care enough about Jesus to do crazy things for him. There is even a sense of camaraderie and unity between fans of the same team, similar to how Christians are unified through the gospel.
As you add all of these things up, the takeaway is that everyone worships. And as funny as it may sound, many of us worship football teams. There is a longing in our fandom that desires a true champion. However, as the entire city of Boston—plus most of the Northeast—has just learned, football teams can’t be where we put all of our hope (yes, even if that team is the Patriots).
Contrary to a shirt I had growing up, football isn’t life. However, for Christians, we have a true champion who has won our salvation on our behalf. Jesus defeated sin and death through his death and resurrection and has shown himself to be the true champion we all long for. This is good news for Eagles and Patriots fans alike.
“There has to be more than this…” – Tom Brady
In a 2005 60 Minutes interview, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked about his success in the NFL. Even though it was about thirteen years ago, Brady had already reached the pinnacle of success as a football player. He had won three Super Bowl rings and had everything he could want. However, in the interview, Brady said something that surprised many.
Brady: “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings, and still think there’s something greater out there for me? Maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what it is. I reached my goal, my dream, my life.’ Me, I think, it’s gotta be more than this.”
Interviewer: “What’s the answer?”
Brady: “I wish I knew.”
Despite the loss on Sunday, since this interview Brady and the Patriots have only experienced more and more success, as they now have five Super Bowl rings. However, this statement from 2005 is something that should be troubling to the world. How can you reach the pinnacle of success in your career and life and yet still feel like there is something greater out there for you? The answer is that we were created for something greater. How much more unified should we feel around the gospel than around a sports team? Why can we cheer and yell for a sports team, but our worship is stagnant? As joyful as we may feel when our team just won the Super Bowl, in 10,000 years it won’t matter. What will matter in 10,000 years is what was done 2,000 years ago: Jesus coming in our place. That’s not to say that Christians shouldn’t be football fans, I love it. However, we should never let the love for sports and teams surpass the love we have for our true champion, Jesus.
– Patrick Anderson (College Resident)