The Metaphysics of Football
Next week is Super Bowl Sunday. For those of you who do not follow football, this is the culmination of the Professional Football season, where the supposedly, top two teams play each other to see who is the best. We all have favorites and deep down feel that team is the best. Just maybe not this year.
I thought it might throw some additional interest into the day by a discussion about football and how it relates to life. I do realize it will not top the interest in the commercials before, during and a little after the game, for it’s the commercials that many watch the game.
And then there is the Super Bowl Parties, which have gone beyond mere hot dogs and chips!
In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest quotes his mother saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Well, today we are saying “Life is like football.”
And humorist Lewis Grizzard agrees, “The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.”
Those would-be growth opportunities.
I know some of you are probably thinking that football isn’t very spiritual, but I would dare say that there are probably more prayers said on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day.
And in case you are thinking the whole idea of sports is not very Biblical…I refer you to the words of Paul in I Corinthians 9:24 as he uses sport as a metaphor: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
So, Paul is talking about the sport of running and boxing here. He doesn’t mention football…which had not been invented yet, but there certainly is a lot of running in football and only one team receives the prize. And that is the whole purpose of the Super Bowl…to determine which team played the best this year and wins the prize.
Football is really just a game. Every game has an objective and ways to go about winning it. Football has such a strong visual—the goal line marking the place where touchdowns are scored. We could say our spiritual goal is to connect with Divine Spirit or our God Self. Winning the game of life is using our divine power to create our experience of happiness, health, wealth, love, or whatever good we desire.
Any game has a structure and must be played by certain rules. The game of life requires knowledge and use of spiritual laws. To successfully play the game of life, we must train the imaging faculty to image only good, which brings every righteous desire of the heart. Directing our consciousness is the key to the game.
In football, you have TWO TEAMS. The team you are on could be your family, your spouse, and your friends, those you know here at Unity. And it is important to know what team you are on and who your teammates are…which is why they wear uniforms. Our uniforms are of the Spiritual kind…an aura of light surrounding each and every one.
And it could be our Unity of Rehoboth Beach T-shirts!
You want to make sure you have the right people around you, supporting you and carrying the ball for you. JESUS knew this and had a team of 12 disciples around him supporting him on his journey and he supported them on theirs. And he had many others following him and providing for his needs, many of them women.
Then there is the OPPOSING TEAM…. they are not the enemy, are they? No, they are another team wearing their own uniforms and playing the game with you. They are there for learning opportunities. And sometimes the opposing team is our own fears that need blocking.
Teams use plays and tactics for meeting the opposition and moving forward. So, too, we use the powerful strategies of prayer and affirmation to meet opposing forces and develop spiritually. Remember, Through the power of our spoken word, we are continually making laws for ourselves. One says I never—another says I always or I will. Each has made a separate law for themselves, one of failure, one of success. Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever we voice, we begin to attract.
In a way, our words are like the football in a game helping us to move forward to our goal or backwards, away from it. In a game, sometimes after the kickoff, the football is run all the way down the field for a touchdown, but that’s rare. It is more common for there to be steady progression, yard after yard, sometimes even inches forward. Likewise, in the game of life we make steady progression, meeting each instance of fear with faith and courage and trust.
Arnold H. Glasgow said; “In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.”
So, it’s IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHAT DIRECTION YOU ARE HEADED. You don’t want to be like Roy “Wrong Way” Riegels who in the 1929 Rose bowl picked up a fumble and then ran 69 yards in the wrong direction.
Life is about setting goals and working to achieve them. Part of moving towards those goals is finding obstacles in the way and sometimes getting tackled to the ground. Illness, financial problems, relationship issues can all seem to tackle us sometimes,
But remember the people involved in those scrimmages are not your enemy…. they are just another player or team heading towards their own goals. And the role they play in your game of life is to provide the learning opportunities that will…if you let them…. serve as your tools for growth.
After every game the team gets together and watches the film of the game to see how they can learn and grow and play the game better the next time. I’d like to suggest that no hard feelings are shared between teams, but we all know that there are some intense rivalries between professional, and college as well as local teams.
And the same is true for our lives…the people in our lives that seem to provide the obstacles in our way are there as a part of our game of life…and we can learn from our contact with them…if we take the time to take responsibility for our part in the scrimmage and learn whatever lesson is there for us to learn.
We sometimes hold a grudge against someone for something we perceive as a wrong against us. Did they say or do something that we thought should have been done differently? Are we throwing a penalty flag for some illegal motion or an off-sides?
And the assessment for the infraction could be the first step in the forgiveness process. Step off 10 yards and re-start the game again. Something is given to offset the perceived penalty. That’s what forgiveness is ‘giving for something.’
Of course, knowing where we went wrong and changing are two different things. We learned that lesson thanks to CHARLIE BROWN. Remember, Lucy is holding the football and he runs to kick it and every time she pulls it away at the last moment and poor Charlie Brown falls flat on his back. Over and over again she does this…until finally she puts the ball down, but he refuses to kick it. He tells her, “why should I kick it if you are just going to yank it away at the last minute and I fall on my back.” And Lucy gets all teary eyed and admits that she has been terrible…and begs him to give her one more chance. And Charlie Brown does…. he goes running to kick the ball, and once again she yanks the ball away at the last minute and Charlie Brown falls on his back. Lucy’s last words were, “Recognizing your faults and actually changing your ways are two different things, Charlie Brown!”
So, if we are going to win at this game of life it would behoove us to review our life and the times we’ve fallen flat on our backs and instead of blaming someone else, learn what is ours to learn…and then change our ways.
In football there are REFEREEs who oversee the game to ensure the teams play fairly. And sometimes they will throw a penalty flag on the play…which means an error has been made and most likely there will be an adjustment in yards.
Well wouldn’t it be great if we had a referee to throw a flag every time we made a mistake? It would make life so much easier, wouldn’t it? If you knew in the moment every time you made an error….it might not stop you from making them, but it would sure help us in getting more conscious.
Don’t we all have an inner referee….and if we are in touch with our inner referee we can notice when we are off center. I certainly notice a lot quicker when I’m off center.
We can spend time nurturing our inner coach…. our Higher Self…. through prayer, meditation and study….and when we do that and we say or do something that we know is off center, we will notice it much more quickly. We can throw down our own flag and delay the game …..and possibly have an opportunity for a ‘do-over.’
Every team has a COACH…someone to cheer them on and to offer plays and strategies. I like to think of myself as one of your coaches…. you come here on Sunday mornings and I offer you strategies for life…. ideas and tools for playing this game of life. But you have an inner coach as well…. God…your Higher Self is there for you any time you call on her.
Every team spends time in the HUDDLE…. that’s the place where the strategy for the play is set…. where the intention for this upcoming play is shared, and you need to be alert and present in that huddle. I think in this game of life…the huddle is the time we spend in prayer and meditation…and I like to think of our Letters to God that we write at the beginning of every year as our huddle for the year. It’s where we set our intentions for the year.
A sportswriter once said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” In the game of life, how you play the game is everything. We don’t sit on the sidelines, but play fully, powerful in our oneness with divine power. Faith is the primary ingredient in the game of life. Faith holds the vision steady, focused on the goal line of what is desired and blocking adverse thoughts.
If one asks for success and prepares for failure, he will get the situation he has prepared for. We must prepare for the thing we asked for, when there isn’t the slightest sign of it in sight. Prepare to have a demonstration! Act as though it is already yours, we must be bold and assertive in our affirmation and belief.
And the last point I want to make is that every game has a SET TIME to play. There are four quarters in a football game and each quarter is 15 minutes long. However, if you’ve ever watched a football game you know that it takes way longer than an hour. There are time outs, running out of bounds, and penalties that stop the clock. And then of course there are all those commercials…which is the main reason many people watch the Super bowl….and the Half Time entertainment.
So, in truth you never really know how long the game is going to be. The same is true for our lives. Your life might have 80 years or 90 years…. you’ll have certain milestones in life…which I guess could be considered the quarters…. any there is always the possibility of a midlife crisis some folks go through…their halftime, which can be entertaining. Who doesn’t want a new sport car???
It doesn’t matter how much time; the game is never over until it’s over.
There have been many games where the game ends with a hail Mary pass to the end zone or a last second field goal attempt.
In life, as in football….it is not over til it’s over. I don’t care if you are 99 years old…. you still have time…you still have a chance. All you must do is keep going forward, have a supporting team around you…. huddle daily with your inner coach…. learn from your past mistakes and adjust.
So play full out till the end.
In the game of life, there can be mistakes or fumbling—missing opportunities or being tackled by fear and immobilized. There can be penalties for “unnecessary roughness”—unkindness and condemning of self or others. You can be blocking your own good, so you don’t receive. Are you a tight end or a wide receiver? You can be penalized for “holding”—on to money, grudges, or the past.
“Living in the past is a violation of spiritual law. The robbers of time are both the past and the future. We should bless the past, and forget it, and bless the future, knowing it has in store for us endless joys, but live fully in the now. Living in the past is running the wrong way down the field, which will never win the game.
The rule is to keep our eye on the ball—on the greatest vision for our lives, keeping focused resolutely on good and only good, letting every situation of fear move us to greater faith and belief. We get out of our own way. We use our divine power to speak our word of declaration. We cast the burden to Higher Power and hand it off to the divine. So, day by day, moment by moment, we are winning the game of life.
Richard Rohr reminds us: “Remember, everything is a revelation of the divine—from rocks to rocket ships. The divine is disclosed everywhere for those who have eyes to see. Our only blindness is our own lack of fascination, amazement, humility, curiosity, awe, and willingness to be allured forward.”
And most importantly…while this spiritual growth is important stuff…. it’s also important to enjoy yourself along the way. If you aren’t having fun at least most of the time …. then change your game plan. ENJOY THE GAME! ENJOY YOUR LIFE!