You know you are in the South when a perfect stranger on the elevator asks you, “So, you ready for some Bama football?”
Yep. That happened to me just this week. Welcome to the land of Dixie where football reigns supreme, and you might just get your tail kicked for shooting off your mouth about the wrong team. Football is serious business here in the Deep South.
But it’s all in good fun, right? Of course. I’m not anti football. Really, I’m not. I’m not really a fan either, though. Growing up where football is elevated higher than pretty much anything can simply wear a person out on the whole scene.
My kids weren’t brought up with this phenomenon, so when I moved them back to Birmingham after a twelve year hiatus, the football culture caught them a bit off guard. My youngest came home from his first day in third grade at the elementary school in Trussville, Alabama and asked me, “Who are we for?”
Not really paying close attention, I asked, “What?
He repeated the question. “Who are we for?”
Then it dawned on me. He had probably been asked all day long this most pivotal question… and he had no idea what the right answer was. He didn’t even know what the question really meant. Of everything the kids could have found out about my kid, all they really cared about was who he was for… Alabama or Auburn. Nice.
After an eye roll that would have made any teenager proud, I told him, “Just tell them Alabama. It’ll make your life easier.” He shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Okay.”
I’ve written some lately about parents helping kids find their passion and living that out. Some parents think they really don’t know how to do that. Yet here in the south, here in Bama country, that’s not true. Growing up, if I wanted to eat and sleep inside, I had better root for Alabama. I’m exaggerating a bit, but even now, if I wear blue and orange in the same outfit to my parent’s house, I can expect a snarky comment. As a kid, I learned to yell and cheer with the best of them for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama parents know how to groom passion in their kids. You have doubts? Just start talking college football. Ridicule their favorite team. See what happens. If we can teach our kids to stand up for their favorite college football team, we should be able to teach them to stand up for righteousness in their schools. If we can teach them (and model for them) how to cheer exuberantly for their favorite football team, we can teach them (and model for them) how to worship with that same fervor.
Doesn’t the Savior of the world deserve at least that much enthusiasm?
I’ve seen the same kids who scream, and jump, and clap at a football game, stand stark still at church unable to worship God with that same zeal, unsure of what that even should or could look like. It’s a real shame, really.
In a recent conversation with my youngest son, now in middle school, we were talking about the local football obsession. He wrote off our disinterest in the whole subject by saying that we are “just not a sports-minded family”. It’s true. We aren’t. But I had to tell him that it’s more than that. I told him that while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a fun sporting event, it’s just not something we want to give our lives to. It’s not what we are passionate about, and that we want to give our lives to that which we are passionate about… Those things that will matter for eternity.
It’s all about perspective. As parents, we should be teaching our kids to show at least as much passion or zeal for their God as we show for our favorite ball teams. The best way to do that is to model that for them. Are we, as parents, cheering as loudly for our Savior? Well, are we?