We’re pausing our Sunday Quotes this week because I wanted to reflect a little bit on today’s Big Game. I’m not a football fan, but I have to confess, this year, I got sucked into watching the game, and it has nothing to do with football and everything to do with the addictive story of the romance between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.
I’m not even a Taylor Swift fan. While I have a great deal of respect for her and her talent, her music is just not my thing. But there’s something about this romance that just makes me happy. I find it fascinating that so many women my age who aren’t fans of either Swift or football are also drawn to this phenomenon, because for the life of me, I can’t explain it. And yet, I’ll be watching the game tonight, and I’ll be rooting for the Chiefs (my apologies to any 49ers fans among my readers!)
Since I believe that there are spiritual lessons in everything, I spent some time thinking about what the spiritual aspects of football and the Big Game might be.
On the face of it, football would seem like the least spiritual of all sports. It’s a pretty violent game, and it seems to be all about competition and winning. And yet, this Sunday has become a national holiday, and there’s something about 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 49ers or the Chiefs, 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.
Perhaps, football can also teach us about mindfulness. If you’ve ever watched the expression on players’ faces during a critical stage of the game, you know that 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 and possibility
This Sunday 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.
And some years, there are moments of magic in the game. Whether it’s a spectacular pass or a last second field goal kick to save the game for an underdog team, these moments make us believe that anything is possible.
So whether you’re watching the Big Game 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!
By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m calling it the Big Game and not that other name it goes by, it’s because the NFL owns the trademark to that other name and has been extremely aggressive about pursuing trademark violations.
Sunday Quotes will be back next week.