It’s here! It’s here!….it’s finally here! I’ve waited eight months for it. What am I talking about? Well, football season, of course!
I’m not your typical chick, nor your typical middle-aged church lady for that matter. I’m a HUGE football fan and if you take it one step further….I love me my San Francisco 49ers. I go to as many games as I can find wealthy friends that have tickets, and I watch faithfully every Sunday afternoon. Since Salsa guy and I are polar opposites he is the one in the kitchen making something yummy and I’m the one planted in front of the TV with my cold beverage and Lil’ Smokies by my side. If I can’t watch, I record the game and turn off the ESPN updates on my phone and I make my friends and family promise they won’t text me any updates on the game. That happened once….ugh!
I am sinfully proud of the red and gold, and this time of year I change my Facebook page photo to the one of me with the black under my eyes and my 49er jersey on and my No. 1 Fan finger.
I love a good wager on a game – usually chocolate chip cookies or fresh salsa. A little ridiculous, huh? I once bet a friend up in Seattle that the Niners would whoop the Seahawks and the wager was that the loser had to take a picture of themselves in the opposing team’s jersey and post it on Facebook. I looked pretty awful in Seattle’s colors.
My new boss Matt (a pastor mind you) says that he can fully embrace and support whatever local team represents the city he’s living in. I find that disturbing. It’s so Christian…. so “I can love anyone because of the love of Jesus“. Really? Where is your loyalty, man? That’s akin to rooting for Goliath just because you’re from Gath. Goliath was a bad dude and the Seahawks had to cheat to win the SuperBowl…so can you really say you’d root for them if you lived in the Pacific Northwest? I think not!
As you can see my competiveness can get me into trouble. I already can tell I’m going to have to apologize to Matt and I hate apologizing. So I’ve learned that I have to keep a tight lid on my enthusiasm with rooting and try not to be too over zealous for the Niners because people get a little snarky about their football teams. One wrong comment and you’re back in “Relationship 101” class where you’re reminded about the importance of nourishing and encouraging others around you. Sigh. So I have to be careful how I navigate through relationships with those other fans around me….especially now that the Niners are doing so sucky lately. Throw some egos and attitudes in the pot and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a team that’s tanking royally. Come on Niners – you can do better than this!
My old pastor, DAG was a Green Bay Packers fan. He came from Wisconsin and when he started this church in California he brought his team loyalty with him. I can respect that. He had a Packers football in his office (which I liked to switch out with a Niner ball) and we liked to tease each other about games over the years when they played one another. I even bought him a Packers poncho when I was in Mexico on a Mission trip. I actually really like Aaron Rodgers as a man of character and he makes funny commercials. Plus the Packers are owned by their fans, I like their team colors (same as my college team) and the cheese heads make me laugh – its such a good visual to identify with. But now I’m faced with a conundrum because I actually really like Seattle’s quarterback, Russell Wilson (oh, say it isn’t so!!) and as much as I hate that Seattle has more “W”s than “L”s when we go up against them….they have a QB who is a great leader on and off the field, and has a great testimony for Christ. And plus…Seattle does have the coolest uniforms in the NFL – don’t judge me – I’m still a chick. What am I to do?
As shocking as it is, I think I’ve figured out that for me football and rooting for a team is a great tool to build relationship with the people around me. It’s a great way to bring people together. We have people over to watch football all the time, and we feed them and that builds relationship with them. Great conversations happen in front of the TV while throwing back your favorite beverage and some chips and dip. In fact, our Youth Group meets every other Monday during football season at different homes to watch Monday Night Football – sort of a football small group. And my brother and I talk on the phone or text about the game every week which gives us a common thread and starts great conversations together. Then there’s the neighbor across the street who will taunt us with his Dallas banner, and we’ll taunt back with our Niner banner. Now those are the things that build relationship! And even worse….I’ll often wager on a Niner game even when I know the Niners are going to get spanked all because its part of the relationship building process. I guess I’m not above hanging my head when it’s to build relationship. Is that a part of grace?
Growing up in So. California I was a loyal LA Rams fan (which tells you how old I am since they haven’t been in LA for 20 years) and I rooted like crazy for them. I was also a Dodger fan…with a few Angel inklings and guess who I root for now? Yep….the Giants and the A’s. So I think if I moved to San Diego or Phoenix…I might just be able to embrace the Chargers or the Cardinals for the sake of relationship. What? Blasphemy! Does that mean that I’m not the loyal Niner fan that I thought I was? Naw….I think I’ll always love the Niners, but grace tells me that I can be a hometown fan and root for the team where my family and friends are so that I can develop deeper relationships with them.
So as much as I hate to admit it…I think Matt has it right. I think I too can be loyal to the local team because for me relationship is more important than if my team wins. Grace for the team and grace for me and grace for other fans. But between you and me, I think God might be a 49er fan.