The Super Bowl has become an enormous event in the United States. The parties, the media coverage, the commercials, and the analysis of the football game itself have grown to gigantic proportions. In fact, an estimated 111.5 million Americans watched the Super Bowl this past Sunday. People rearranged their lives to watch the game. In Seattle and Denver, stores and restaurants closed early to give workers the opportunity to watch the big game, while across the USA ,many churches cancelled Sunday night services.
What I find most disturbing about the Super Bowl and professional sports is the way that men let their lives revolve around them. Many men live vicariously through their sports teams. Instead of seeking their own adventures, they place all their focus on watching sports. As a result, our society has many passive men who would rather watch other men play a game on TV than partaking in hiking, climbing, fishing, hunting, playing sports or other active manly adventures. Isn’t it ironic that many men are overly dedicated to watching other people exercise at the expense of exercising themselves?
On top of that, the culture subtly tells men that the only acceptable form of passion they can display is through watching sports. To block off time to watch three hours of football is acceptable, even commendable, but spending an hour with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration or taking a weekend to go on a retreat is considered crazy. However, we must not let the culture dictate its values to us. Pope Francis challenged all people, but I think especially men, in his recent homily when he said, “You’re able to shout when your team makes a goal but you cannot sing the Lord’s praises?” As men, we need to evaluate if we find more joy and enthusiasm in sports than God.
We need to have a healthy outlook on sports, as demonstrated by many Catholics in Denver this past weekend. While watching sports is not intrinsically evil and may even be a great way for friends and family to come together and cheer a common cause, we must avoid making sports an idol before God. One way to see if watching sports is an idol in your life is to compare how much time you spend watching sports to other things in your life, such as, prayer, exercise, building relationships with friends, etc. If sports are taking up a huge part of your life, take a step back and reflect on the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave to us “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Let’s learn to enjoy sports in moderation and place more focus on the things that truly matter in this life.