Last week when I excitedly told my wife that Matthew Paul Turner had asked me to guest post on his blog, she replied, “That’s great. Who are they?” I went on to explain that Matthew Paul Turner was in fact one person, and not to be confused with Matthew, Paul, and Turner, the 60’s folk trio. She nodded, but still lacked the excitement I thought the moment deserved, so I went on to explain that MPT is pretty famous, and he’s written nearly a dozen books, and his blog has millions of readers, half of who are likely to buy my book after reading my post. “So what’s his blog about?” she asked, finally sensing the enormity of the moment. I told her it’s about pop culture and the church, and sometimes sex, and once a week or so
he posts funny pictures of Jesus. “And he thinks his readers want to hear from a guy who wrote a book about college football?” And with that my excitement level dropped down to meet hers, because while Matthew does have millions of readers, I’m not sure any of you care about college football.
But here’s the thing, I don’t really care about football either. I mean I obviously care about it on some level, I wrote an entire book about how much I struggle with my passion for my favorite team. But as for the game of football goes, the X’s and O’s if you will, I couldn’t care less. In fact, most of my knowledge of formations and blitz schemes comes from playing years of John Madden on PlayStation. That being said, football is one of the most important things in my life, particularly in the fall. Not because I’m a player, or a coach, or some degenerate gambler with last week’s paycheck on the line. No, football is important to me because at some point in my life I decided my worth as a person is directly proportionate to the success of my favorite team. Not the healthiest perspective on spectator sports, I know, but at least I’m now aware of how messed up I am.
This level of self-awareness didn’t come easy, and it didn’t come at all until 2008, when my Auburn Tigers suffered through a particularly poor season. I began to wonder why after losses I had trouble even making myself go to church, let alone worshiping the God of the universe. I mean in the end football is just entertainment, and if I see a bad movie on Saturday night, I don’t sulk through Sunday morning’s praises choruses.
So in the fall of 2009 I decided to tour the SEC, and spend a football weekend at each of the 12 schools. At each stop I spent time with rabid, Christian fans, like myself, and tried to get a sense of how others were able to keep football in it’s proper place. And through this journey I began to realize football felt so important to me, only because I was attaching so much importance to it. We all do it, maybe not with football, but with our job, our spouse, or even our church. It’s when we replace God with something that isn’t God that things start to get out of whack. You know I’m happy to live in the south, where the passion and pageantry of college football is unmatched. There is nothing like spending a crisp fall Saturday with friends and family, watching your favorite team on TV or in the stadium. And I’m happy that this sport, as great as it is, isn’t my God. I just hope I can remember that this fall.
So would you like a free copy of my book, God and Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC? It’s being called an illuminating, laugh out loud look at the place where faith, football, and fanaticism meet. Of course I’m the one who’s calling it that, but we’re giving away copies here, so if the book sucks at least you didn’t pay for it. Anyway, Matthew, Paul, and Turner have five copies to give away, and all you have to do to win is post the name of your favorite team below. Any league, any sport, doesn’t matter, although if you throw in a ‘War Eagle’ you may get extra consideration.
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Chad Gibbs found football at the age of eight, found God one year later, and has spent the rest of his life worshiping one of the two. He and his wife live in Auburn, AL with their dogs Bob Vance and Harper.