October 2005
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Donate to a great cause: the NFL

By Janelle Holden

I’ve decided that the only hope for restoring civil society in this country is sports. Here’s why. Given that my parents, most of my family, and some close friends are big fans of the current president’s administration, sports is about the only thing I have to talk about these days.

Despite the adversarial tone of my columns on occasion, I really don’t like to argue. I like discussions where people say things like, “That’s a good point,” instead of, “You’re wrong.” Maybe that’s part of being a bleedingheart liberal, I don’t know.

But now that I’ve been both a conservative and a liberal during my lifetime, I would have to say that liberals are just more polite, most of the time. However, I broke that axiom last weekend when a friend and I got into a heated argument over who is responsible for the Hurricane Katrina disaster (besides Katrina herself, that is). The conversation devolved to a point that I’ve decided to no longer bring up politics, religion, guns, abortion, wolves, health care, education, personal safety, hurricanes, or anything else remotely controversial with people who don’t think like me.

So, outside of talking about cleaning my house, and what to do with my garden next year, I really only have sports to draw upon these days. Thus, I was very excited for the beginning of a new NFL season this year. Why worry about poor black people in Louisiana, when you have rich black athletes to worry about all over the country?

My husband and I are what you might call “avid” fans of the New England Patriots. This means that there is general depression and malaise after a loss, and self-satisfaction and delirium after a win. Soon the pharmaceutical companies will be making a pill for our disease, I’m sure. I love this team for allowing me to feel like a winner again during a political season where the words “liberal” and “loser” seem to go hand in hand.

However, my one tiny, itsy-bitsy complaint about sports, and sports players, is this belief that God has something, well really, anything, to do with them winning.

It’s irritating to me to see football players point to the sky after they make a touchdown, sack a quarterback, or dislocate someone’s jaw. I’ve never seen any of them point to the sky when they threw an interception or fumbled the ball and if God is involved in their successes, you’d think he was involved with their screw-ups too. No, you don’t see them giving God the credit during the bad times. It’s probably because God doesn’t want any bad public relations.

So sure, everyone is entitled to his or her personal beliefs and favorite sports teams, but I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) give a damn about sports.

I would hope that God would be much more concerned about the recent hurricane victims, or refugees, or evacuees, or whatever you want to call them. But given that hurricanes are considered “an act of God” one has to wonder just exactly what he is doing up there. As Jon Stewart put it, maybe instead of a National Day of Prayer, we should be holding a National Day of Railing against God – especially if your football team has a losing record.

Now, one might argue that God’s little hurricane act in Louisiana and football are closely tied together because the Superdome and the Astrodome, home to two of America’s NFL football teams, provided refuge for people in the hurricane’s path. What does this tell us? Well, maybe that God works in mysterious ways, and that there might be a greater purpose for football than I thought.

According to Jesus, his father is on the side of the poor and the downtrodden , never mind these little acts of his that flood these people’s homes, and we should all give up everything we own to help them, including our great big gas-guzzling SUV’s. I just wish I knew which agency to give it all up to. The Red Cross screwed up the 9- 11 donations and wasn’t visibly at the Louisiana convention center helping people out. The Salvation Army wasn’t trucking people out, and certainly my federal taxes seemed to be a waste.

So, I think, this year, my charitable contributions will be going to the NFL. For clearly, this organization provided the shelter that people really needed in a time of crisis. And if God really does care about football, I’ll have all of my bases covered.

Janelle Holden writes from Montana.


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