Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jesus In The Huddle: Wait A Minute, Would Jesus Even Play Football?



Lots of stuff I could be writing about, important kinds of stuff too (here, and here, and here) but I find myself having to write about the new University of Connecticut football coach, Ernst T Jones, who was hired to work with running backs, and foster player development which most definitely includes their spiritual development.  Spiritual development is a worthy pursuit, except that public institutions usually have dedicated staff for this task......but maybe football players need some special ed in this area.  It certainly couldn't hurt given the number of crime stories college football generates, (not too mention the big bucks)  even at Notre Dame, which was Coach Jones last employer for this duel role.

However, it was this quote of Coach Jones that brought up my speculation about Jesus playing football: 

And how does that “spiritual” part go? ”Just because you come to the University of Connecticut doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to pursue your faith,” Jones said. “No, you’re going to be able to come here and love the God that you love. So we provide opportunities for them to grow spiritually in our community. So I’ll get out and meet some people in the community so when this young man, for example, says, ‘I’m a Seventh Day Adventist or I’m a Catholic or I’m a Baptist or I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,’ well, OK, here you go.”
While Jones’ list does not exactly box the compass of religion in 21st-century America, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to acquaint arriving Huskies with the spiritual options available to them in greater Storrs, CT. But then there’s this:
“And we’re going to do things in our building, fellowship, non-denominational type things, players, coaches. We’re going to make sure they understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that’s something that is important. If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships then you better understand that this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior. That’s going to be something said by Bob Diaco. That’s something that’s going to be said by Ernest Jones. That’s who we are.”
Uh-oh. It may be that no one objected to having Jesus at the center of the huddle at Notre Dame or Alcorn State, the historically African-American university in southwestern Mississippi. But here in Connecticut we’re a bit sensitive to constitutional niceties like not hiring state employees to teach state university students that Jesus is on the team.
- See more at: http://marksilk.religionnews.com/2014/01/14/uconn-footballs-come-jesus-moment/#sthash.MflAynaZ.dpuf
 “And we’re going to do things in our building, fellowship, non-denominational type things, players, coaches. We’re going to make sure they understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that’s something that is important. If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships, then you better understand that this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior."

Other folks have dealt with the implications of Coach Jones' statement for a secular institution like U Conn, so I won't rehash any of that, other than to observe that 'non denominational' generally precludes such a statement being immediately followed by "Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle'.  Perhaps this is just one more example of the rules of engagement not having to be followed by committed Christians because their faith in Jesus gives them the right to not follow the rules of engagement.  Ahemm.  Amen.

I do however, still want to speculate about Jesus playing football.  After all He did more or less call the signals for 12 fellow teammates. (Yes, I know football involves only allows 11.)  It's hard to imagine Jesus playing any other position than quarterback.  The Hail Mary pass would take on mystical significance.  I can even imagine a wide receiver named 'John' hauling in such passes with a certain regularity.  I can also imagine new penalties.  "Offensive penalty on number 1.  Unnecessary interference with reality. Automatic turn over.  First down defense."  I imagine even Coach Jones would have apoplexy over that penalty...Jesus in your huddle or not, parity must be maintained. Tweaking reality would quickly find itself not allowed.  Having Jesus in your huddle could bring other problems.  I imagine trainers would be taping more than ankles in order to maintain the proper decorum in the huddle.  Or, in the interests of winning being everything, Jesus might be 'coached' to put up with His Father's name being taken in vein by teammates.  In the end, I can see where having Jesus in your huddle might cause more problems than provide wins.

John Elway, the head honcho of the Denver Broncos, was faced with a sort of similar kind of thing with Tim Tebow.  He chose to let Jesus' most blessed of quarterbacks go, and went with Peyton Manning.  Apparently this didn't upset Jesus too much because John and Peyton are off to the Superbowl and Tim is no longer in football.  Perhaps there is a message here for Coach Jones concerning what Jesus really thinks of football.

Personally, I don't think there is anything more toxic to the cohesion of a football team than fostering groups on denominational lines.  It's one thing at schools like Notre Dame or BYU when incoming freshman know they are going to get a certain amount of spiritual coercion, but it's a whole different game in secular schools or professional leagues where Jesus is not expected to be in the huddle or to be given the sole credit for a team or it's players efforts and successes.  This conveniently leaves the players themselves to take the fall for all the failures.  I guess it's a nice way to let coaches completely off the hook.  Success or failure, it's never about them.  It's about Jesus bestowing graces,  or that damn sinner of a linebacker missing a tackle, or that wimp of a kicker missing a field goal.

In the end, I really can't imagine Jesus being in any huddle at all.  I can imagine Jesus on a golf course, carrying a one iron and being able to hit it.  Golf is in the Kingdom.  Football is probably not--well, maybe flag football.   Fer sure soccer and baseball and basketball and of course, chess.  However, I would not want to play Jesus in chess unless He could only use pawns.
 
And how does that “spiritual” part go? ”Just because you come to the University of Connecticut doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to pursue your faith,” Jones said. “No, you’re going to be able to come here and love the God that you love. So we provide opportunities for them to grow spiritually in our community. So I’ll get out and meet some people in the community so when this young man, for example, says, ‘I’m a Seventh Day Adventist or I’m a Catholic or I’m a Baptist or I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,’ well, OK, here you go.”
While Jones’ list does not exactly box the compass of religion in 21st-century America, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to acquaint arriving Huskies with the spiritual options available to them in greater Storrs, CT. But then there’s this:
“And we’re going to do things in our building, fellowship, non-denominational type things, players, coaches. We’re going to make sure they understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that’s something that is important. If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships then you better understand that this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior. That’s going to be something said by Bob Diaco. That’s something that’s going to be said by Ernest Jones. That’s who we are.”
Uh-oh. It may be that no one objected to having Jesus at the center of the huddle at Notre Dame or Alcorn State, the historically African-American university in southwestern Mississippi. But here in Connecticut we’re a bit sensitive to constitutional niceties like not hiring state employees to teach state university students that Jesus is on the team.
- See more at: http://marksilk.religionnews.com/2014/01/14/uconn-footballs-come-jesus-moment/#sthash.MflAynaZ.dpuf
And how does that “spiritual” part go? ”Just because you come to the University of Connecticut doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to pursue your faith,” Jones said. “No, you’re going to be able to come here and love the God that you love. So we provide opportunities for them to grow spiritually in our community. So I’ll get out and meet some people in the community so when this young man, for example, says, ‘I’m a Seventh Day Adventist or I’m a Catholic or I’m a Baptist or I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,’ well, OK, here you go.”
While Jones’ list does not exactly box the compass of religion in 21st-century America, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to acquaint arriving Huskies with the spiritual options available to them in greater Storrs, CT. But then there’s this:
“And we’re going to do things in our building, fellowship, non-denominational type things, players, coaches. We’re going to make sure they understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that’s something that is important. If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships then you better understand that this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior. That’s going to be something said by Bob Diaco. That’s something that’s going to be said by Ernest Jones. That’s who we are.”
Uh-oh. It may be that no one objected to having Jesus at the center of the huddle at Notre Dame or Alcorn State, the historically African-American university in southwestern Mississippi. But here in Connecticut we’re a bit sensitive to constitutional niceties like not hiring state employees to teach state university students that Jesus is on the team.
- See more at: http://marksilk.religionnews.com/2014/01/14/uconn-footballs-come-jesus-moment/#sthash.MflAynaZ.dpuf
And how does that “spiritual” part go? ”Just because you come to the University of Connecticut doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to pursue your faith,” Jones said. “No, you’re going to be able to come here and love the God that you love. So we provide opportunities for them to grow spiritually in our community. So I’ll get out and meet some people in the community so when this young man, for example, says, ‘I’m a Seventh Day Adventist or I’m a Catholic or I’m a Baptist or I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,’ well, OK, here you go.”
While Jones’ list does not exactly box the compass of religion in 21st-century America, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to acquaint arriving Huskies with the spiritual options available to them in greater Storrs, CT. But then there’s this:
“And we’re going to do things in our building, fellowship, non-denominational type things, players, coaches. We’re going to make sure they understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that’s something that is important. If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships then you better understand that this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior. That’s going to be something said by Bob Diaco. That’s something that’s going to be said by Ernest Jones. That’s who we are.”
Uh-oh. It may be that no one objected to having Jesus at the center of the huddle at Notre Dame or Alcorn State, the historically African-American university in southwestern Mississippi. But here in Connecticut we’re a bit sensitive to constitutional niceties like not hiring state employees to teach state university students that Jesus is on the team.
- See more at: http://marksilk.religionnews.com/2014/01/14/uconn-footballs-come-jesus-moment/#sthash.MflAynaZ.dpuf

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for a smile Colleen. I have always had a problem with God loves our team better than your team, and will pass this on to our son in Colorado who isn't missing God's chosen quarterback at all. And the pitchers in baseball who kiss the cross around their neck before throwing the ball, while the batter is blessing himself before swinging, always made me wonder how God sorted out who to reward.

    ReplyDelete
  2. coolmom, baseball is different. Of course God cares about every single pitch. The issue is which end of the pitch does God care about, and that mostly depends on the team, not the individual pitcher or batter. After all, a collective is more important than an individual and the sum is greater than the whole of it's parts.


    Or I'm just full of it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kathleen SchatzbergJanuary 23, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Lovely column, and I agree with you, Jesus would NOT be in the huddle, but you left out one of the most important reasons. Football is a disgustingly violent form of "sport" and I cannot imagine the King of Peace playing or condoning it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. sylvesterpatsteffenJanuary 24, 2014 at 3:54 AM

    Whatever "it" is you are full of, it is thoughtful and it brings a smile. You scare me because I seldom find anything you say that I take issue with. Jesus and football? Jesus isn't a head-bashing kind of person.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What about hockey and rugby and basketball?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Aren't there always different rules for Republicans?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hockey is my favorite sport, but I have to admit it won't be allowed in the Kingdom until fighting is outlawed. It was hard for me to have to admit hockey just couldn't make my list of sports in the Kingdom. I did include basketball. Rugby might be allowed if all the players learned to sincerely apologize for their multitude of excesses.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think rules and their allowed for differences have more to do with $$$ than political membership. Republicans just tend to have more politicians with more $$$$.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hockey without fighting is pitiful.

    ReplyDelete