Sunday, October 23, 2005

Rushing the Altar

Last night I returned from the Homecoming football (American style not soccer) game of Iowa State University (ISU) vs. Oklahoma State University which I am happy to report ISU won! I really enjoyed visiting my fraternity house which looked very good due to the recent remodeling projects. My congratulations to all the brothers who were involved.

After a long day of enjoying college football and the 3 hour drive home that night I simply went to bed to rise early for church service. It was after church that I was struck by the parallel between the church floor as the gridiron (football field) and the altar/crucifix as the goal posts. Why you might ask did I see this analogy? It was all timing -- I spent Saturday watching football and then on Sunday following church I was reading the local newspaper at my gym where this story caught my attention, "Student Dies after Goal Post Pulled Down." For my non-American readers let me educate you if needed -- a long tradition in the USA is for winning teams' fans to tear down/dismantle the goal posts after a football victory to carry off the pieces as souvenirs of the match.

This particular news story focused on the death of Richard Rose, a junior student/basketball player at the University of Minnesota-Morris (UMM) who apparently was killed from head injuries caused by the destruction of the goal posts following UMM's victory over Crown College. Now this is a tragic death that should clearly have been avoided by ending a tradition that I personally don't support at all. There is no reason to tear down goal posts to memorialize football victories for these reasons, which I hope you can add to:

  • Replacing goal posts for future games is a waste of money better spent on our athletes or even better, academic tutors for these student-athletes
  • Many pieces of goal posts undoubtedly end up being discarded at the end of the school year as students graduate or leave for summer jobs since having a section of your goal posts from college don't really add a professional touch to your cubicle in some multi-national corporation when you begin your first job.
  • Mob rule and herd mentality typically create very dangerous situations -- remember the consumers running to buy Cabbage Patch kids years ago where store windows were shattered and people were pushed to the floor? When I worked in a factory to pay my way through college people would run to the break room to get the best choice of donuts until one day when someone running to claim their donut (aka "piece of goal post") broke his leg which is a great way to contain rising health care costs!!! Amazing behavior.

My point earlier in this posting of the parallel of the football field to the church is simply that -- for many people sports is their religion (see "Friday Night Lights" book and film for reference if needed) and via my commentary I wanted the reader to envision a group of parishioners sitting in church listening a the best sermon they have heard in months. After the pastor ends his sermon with "Amen" a group of parishioners, perhaps pushing some children out of the way as they run to the altar to tear down the crucifix (cross) to break off pieces to carry home as a souvenir of the sermon.

Then again, some pastors might be encouraged by seeing such passion in their flock. Far be it for me to be judgmental :) -- a wink to my close friends since they know my personal nature.

Hail Mary,


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