I’m not a football fan. I may watch part of the game for the commercials, but that’s about it. However, since I believe that there are spiritual lessons in everything, I spent some time thinking about whether there might be any spiritual lessons from football and the Big Game today.
Sports are mostly about competition and winning, two concepts that aren’t exactly synonymous with spirituality. Football is a pretty violent game, and as such, would seem like the least spiritual of all sports. And yet, this Sunday has become a national holiday. There’s something about close to a hundred million people watching the same event that makes me think that there has to be something more to it than just a game.
What the Big Game can teach us
The Big Game shows us, in rather dramatic fashion, that you can’t always win in life. If your team is playing today, it may be asking a little too much for you to not be attached to the outcome, but for the rest of us, watching the game may be a chance to practice non-attachment, an important premise of many spiritual traditions. Of course, if you are rooting for either the Chiefs of the Eagles, the lesson for fans of one team, at the end of the night, may be about acceptance, and, if you’re a hard core fan, possibly suffering, both key concepts of Buddhism.
I think football can also teach us about mindfulness and being in the moment. Watch the expressions on players’ faces during a critical stage of the game. They’re completely in the moment. There’s even a term for this that I believe originated from football: we say that an athlete is “in the zone.” The same is true for spectators who are really into the team and their sport.
A sense of community
Today creates a sense of community. Whether you watch the game with friends, or at home in your living room with your cats for company, just knowing that there are so many others around the world doing the exact same thing at the exact same moment makes you realize that you are part of a larger universe.
So whether you’re watching the Chiefs and the Eagles, or whether you’re staying away from anything football related today, spend some time reflecting on the fact that ultimately, everything in life is guided by Spirit. And if you’re rooting for one of the teams in today’s game, may your team win!