Football season is here, and in the state of Alabama you don’t have to clarify this as meaning college football, because that much is understood. There is no room for the NFL around these parts, especially in my town – Tuscaloosa – which is home to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. I will not attempt to explain the insanity-level fandom garnered by the Tide in this town, because the only way to truly understand this is to attend a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Otherwise, just accept that the madness is deeper, stronger and more unwavering than you could ever imagine.
I thoroughly enjoy this time of year, mainly for the game itself. It’s easy to become distracted by the carnival-like atmosphere associated with games in Tuscaloosa, but all of the frill wouldn’t amount to much if the on-field spectacle wasn’t so wildly entertaining. No Hollywood production could drum up a drama on par with two top teams going down to the wire. On top of that, the trappings of a game aren’t too shabby, either: tailgating, screaming fans, and one of the South’s grandest football cathedrals, Bryant-Denny Stadium, just to name a few. For the uninitiated, experiencing the craziness for the first time would be overwhelming, to put it lightly – but in a good way.
Of course, certain bad things always tend to tag along with the good, and such is the case with college football season in Alabama. It’s around this time of year that you begin to see the Jekyll and Hyde transformation begin for some fans. By transformation’s end, what was once a rational, mild-mannered individual is now a maniacally obnoxious fire-breathing football monster that will destroy anyone in its path who does not respond in-kind to the exclamation of “Roll Tide!”
Now, obviously, I am exaggerating a bit, but you probably understand my point. I appreciate an enthusiastic fan, but it is possible to take it past the limit. Sadly, some not only take it past the limit but pull a Buzz Lightyear and take it to infinity and beyond, to the point where football is elevated to the level of religion.
I have heard people frivolously say that in the south football is a religion, and while I understand that the intent behind such a statement is not literal, I still don’t believe it’s an appropriate sentiment to express. For Christians, we enter the danger zone when an otherwise acceptable activity becomes an object of such an intense desire that it threatens to displace Christ from the top spot in our lives. At this time of year, remember: an idol does not necessarily have to come in the form of a golden calf; it can also come in the form of a brown leather spheroid.