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Football is Back Again!

By Merrill Ogden - | Sep 15, 2021

It’s that time of year again. Annual, recurring, football fever is as predictable as the sun coming up and the cows coming home. And it’s back. The high schools, colleges and the professionals are all in full swing playing with the odd shaped ball.

My wife and I met at BYU. We follow the Cougars and attend games when we can. It was a relief to be in the stadium in Provo last Saturday night and finally, much to my surprise, get a football win against the Utes!

I am glad for the University of Utah and their successes. I really am. I’m just not so glad that they have beat BYU the past nine games in the series. I was starting to think that I was going to have to change my fasting and praying for rain to end the drought over to a new purpose – the end of the BYU drought of wins against the U.

Snow College is going a little crazy winning its first two games of the season. Game One Score: 85 – 0. Game Two Score: 63 – 0. Go Badgers!

Football is not everyone’s “cup of tea.” There are some who don’t understand the game well enough to enjoy it. Or perhaps, they understand it all too well and don’t enjoy it. To them it’s just a bunch of big, brutish guys trying to smash each other and the ball is just incidental. It seems brutal and dangerous and so they are philosophically against it as a sport.

A lot of people would rather skip football and stay home and watch something civilized on television like “Criminal Minds,” “Naked and Afraid,” or “Professional Wrestling.” (Just kidding – or maybe not.)

There are, in fact, people who would much rather read a book, watch a movie, tie flies, reload bullets, crochet afghans, or pursue some other hobby rather than watch a football game.

Some would rather pull weeds, clean toilets, pull their fingernails out, be water boarded, eat worms, or anything other than watch football. Football is boring and torture to these people.

I remember one time years ago we invited another couple to go to a football game with us. I got the idea that the woman wasn’t really into football because as we left the car for the stadium, I noticed that she had reading material with her. The prominent book was the Bible.

I’ve wondered since if the Bible has anything to say about football. I know that football is almost a religion to some people. A few years ago we were in South Bend, Indiana for a BYU versus Notre Dame game. Being there reminded me of a Bible verse. “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” Psalms 3:6

As we sat in the stands at Notre Dame, even Jesus seemed to be on the side of the home team. We looked straight across at the image of Jesus looming above the stadium as mosaic art on the side of the library.

His upraised arms are in a similar position to a football referee’s signal for the scoring of a touchdown. Back in the sixties, soon after the mural was completed, the nickname “Touchdown Jesus” became popular and is now a part of the rich football lore of the “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame.

Occasionally football feels like a guilty pleasure for me. I sometimes feel like I should be doing something more productive. Once in a while, I ask myself a question when I’m sitting at a game somewhere and looking at all the spectators.

I ask, “What if we were able to get all these people gathered together with the same amount of dedication and spirit for the purposes of a service project?” When seated at a game with tens of thousands of people, it makes me wonder how much good could be done if that kind of group could be unified for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

But, I have to remind myself that wholesome recreation is a good thing. “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” I certainly don’t want to be a dull boy. So I salve my conscience and enjoy the game.

The thing I need to do is not become overly concerned about becoming a dull boy. It’s easy to overdose on football. This time of year there is always a game on TV. And it doesn’t matter who’s playing, any game can be more interesting than cleaning out the rain gutters on the house or mowing the lawn or any number of other things that need to be done.

There was a list circulated around some years ago entitled “Twenty Reasons Why It’s Great to Be a Man.” Two things that I remember which were on that list were, “The world is your bathroom” and “There’s always a game on TV.”

I think that’s a little sexist for today’s society. Females have caught right up if they were ever behind.

My son-in-law was on an elk hunt one time and happened upon an incident demonstrating that the bathroom thing is not just a male phenomenon. (When you gotta go, you gotta go – regardless of gender)

And – it’s no secret that many girls like ball games too. I know several women who know football better than I do.

I find that the game provides a great camaraderie among the spectators, fosters school spirit with the students, and is generally a positive influence in the lives of the players. And, besides all of that, it’s just plain fun to watch guys smashing into each other. — Merrill


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