Thursday, September 06, 2007

Football = Religion?

Check out Carl Olson's reflection, called "The Sacramentals of Sport", on the Ignatius Press blog. How many times do clergy hear that we're a different, more laid-back culture, and that average people are just unwilling to accept concepts like "infallibility", "holy days of obligation", etc. Apparently not.

Little Johnny's football coach can require mandatory attendance at all practices and games, and the parents will accept it. But if little Johnny's parish Priest reminds him that Catholics are obligated to attend Mass every Sundays and Holy Day of Obligation, the parents respond, "You can't seriously expect us to come every week."

Little Mary's soccer coach can give her parents a list of required (and not necessarily inexpensive) clothing items which must be worn as part of the uniform when she goes to team events, and the parents will accept it. But little Mary's Priest dare not comment on the fact that she dresses to go to mass as if she's doing a photo shoot for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

Little Jimmy's lacrosse coach can dump 20 cartons of candy bars in his parents' car and tell them that they're required to sell them as part of the team's fundraising efforts, and the parents will accept it. But if little Jimmy's parents get a homily that talks about stewardship and everyone's obligation for the financial upkeep of their parish, they complain that "The Church is always after money".

Little Tina's piano teacher can tell her that if she doesn't practice for the upcoming recital, she won't be allowed to play, and the parents will accept it. But if little Tina's Priest tells her that she can't serve because she didn't attend the rehearsal for altar servers for a special Mass, then the parents tell their neighbors that "Father hates our family".

Little Eli's wrestling coach will impose a special diet, early morning workouts, and late night scrimmages, and the parents will accept it. But if little Eli's parents hear that the Pope has called for fasting and abstinence during Lent, early morning prayers, and late night spiritual reading, the parents will opine, "Who is that old man to tell us how to live our lives?"

Little Ashley's cheering coach can announce that the squad is going to be cheering in a tournament at Walt Disney World, and everyone has to go, and the parents will accept it. But is little Ashley announces she wants to attend World Youth Day, then the parents question the cost of such a trip.


Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

And CYO basketball games will take place on Sundays at noon (some of us are still in church at that hour) and team photo shoots are held earlier in the morning on Sundays. And no one bats an eye--and they all think we're weird because we have a problem with this.

Denise said...

Fr. Jay,

Where there is a will, there is a way. My daughter plays on one of the top 10 soccer teams in the country. She expects to be playing on a Division 1 college team next fall. I have traveled all over the United States with her and her soccer team. My three boys also play soccer. In my nearly 17 years as a soccer mom, we have never missed Mass or a Holy Day of Obligation. No matter where we are, we can and do find Mass. My daughter hopes to become an architect. This interest was sparked by the wide variety of church architecture we have seen in our travels. In addition my daughter participates in our parish praise and worship band and my boys have been altar servers. (We don't have girls as altar servers) Bottom line is anyone who says their kids' activities don't let them get to Mass or fulfill other religious obligations just aren't trying very hard.

Christine the Soccer Mom said...

I am SO grateful that Big Girl plays soccer with a homeschool rec league. It's run by Christians, and fees are small, practices are once a week, and games are once a week, as well. Families are kept on one team (albeit divided up into age categories) that all practice on the same night. They pray before every practice and game, too.

Of course, we are about the only Catholics on the team, but so far it's not conflicted with any Holy Day of Obligation. They did try to have an awards banquet on Halloween last year, but that got moved. ;) Turned out that we are the only family on the team who does anything that night with trick or treating!

But it is very nice to be involved with a group that understands that God is first, family second, and everything else is in its proper place after those two.