Fall is in the air, and in the United States that means it is football season. At the start of every Monday Night Football game fans are familiar with the question, "Are you ready for some football?!"
Non-American readers, I beg your indulgence because my point will also apply to what you call football and to other sports as well.
American football passed baseball as America's pastime long ago. For better or for worse it is part of the national culture. During the autumn, stadiums and couches will be full of spectators rooting for their team. Fans will wear their team colors, fly their flags and agonize over each play.
I have to confess. I am included.
Football, though, is just a game with no long-term value. Which team wins or loses has no lasting importance. It is just entertainment, but since many of us watch football, we might as well learn something from it.
Advice from a famous coach
Legendary Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi said, "Football is like life—it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority."
Vince Lombardi was right. Look at teams that have sustained success. Any successful team at any level will show those characteristics.
Teams have to persevere through challenges during the season. Players keep themselves in peak physical condition through training, which demands dedication, hard work and self-denial. Successful teams buy into the coach's vision and respect his authority.
Those same traits will serve us well in life. We have to persevere though the challenges we face. A truly successful life requires moderation and self-denial.
Any success worth having requires hard work and dedication.
And what about respect for authority? We won't fulfill our ultimate potential if we are constantly at odds with authority figures.
Sports lesson from Scripture?
Did you know that much of Vince Lombardi's formula for success is found summed up in the Bible?
The apostle Paul wrote about a sporting event that he must have watched. He spoke of running in a race and competing for a crown. He stated that to compete for that prize, the contestants had to go into strict training. He also said he disciplined his body and kept it under subjection. You can read his famous words in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Watch and learn
Paul wasn't a professional boxer or runner. He was using the Isthmian Games that took place near the ancient Greek city of Corinth as an analogy to life. These games were similar to our Olympic games. Foot races, boxing and wrestling were just some of the events in the games. It was the great sporting event of that time. The Isthmian Games were as familiar to people then as football is to us now. It was as if Paul had said, "Football is like life."
Paul told us to live life as if we were in training for a great event with a valuable prize for the winners. Winners at the Isthmian Games would get crowns of leaves, but Paul said he was competing for a crown much more valuable. It wouldn't decay like leaves but would remain forever.
As we watch our football this season, let's keep in mind that it is only a game, but one that teaches us some lessons. For another lesson on the value of sports, read "Creating Winning Habits." This brings us back to our original question:
Are you ready for some football?! VT