America’s unhealthy football addiction

As the sweltering days of summer give way to the cool, brisk evenings of fall, one thing you can expect in the weeks and months ahead is that on every Saturday and Sunday from now until December, millions of Americans will be tuning in to their television sets to support their favorite football team.

Among other things, what that means is that millions of Americans, for hours on end, will be throwing back beers, slamming down brats, and pigging out on their favorite nacho dip while gathered at their local watering hole or sprawled out on their couch.


Monday through Friday, these same people, instead of talking about the sermon they heard Sunday morning – that is, if they even went to church – will spend countless more hours discussing ad nauseam the latest fine-inducing hit and how well their Fantasy Football team did.

Football, it seems, is everywhere. And it’s about to take over our lives.

If you caught the NFL’s season opener last Thursday between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos, chances are you saw country music artist Keith Urban’s special pre-game kickoff concert. To most of the viewing audience, the celebration was probably nothing out of the ordinary – just another electrifying performance by one of the nation’s most popular musicians. I, on the other hand, was left scratching my head. What are all these people so excited about? I thought to myself. All this for football? It’s just a game. Fewer Americans associate with organized religion, right? Maybe this is their new god.

In many ways, Mr. Urban’s uninspiring lyrics, the audience’s hypnotic behavior, and the fireworks display at the end of the show served as the embodiment of the larger spiritual lobotomy taking place in America today.

Now, to be fair, football (and sports in general for that matter) can build character, instill a hard work ethic and teach self-sacrifice. But my goodness, can anyone deny that football has become an inseparable part of America’s civic religion and that it has had a caustic effect on our spiritual well being? Seriously, it seems like more and more people are dedicating inordinate amounts of time to this stuff. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to witness our neighbors spend hours upon hours shopping for and making sure that their fifteen dollar steak is cooked to perfection before reclining in their favorite la-z-boy for a twelve hour NFL triple-header. Nor is it out of the ordinary to see folks spend all day running around looking for the perfect combination of craft beer, pizza rolls and tortilla chips to satisfy the urges they get while watching those enticing commercials. Talk about profligacy.

Moreover, look at how much football franchises spend on their cathedral-like stadiums and how NFL broadcasts rely on catchy songs and slogans to get their viewers excited for the onslaught of half naked women that are about to appear on their screen. Barely anyone in the mainstream media raises an eyebrow about any of this. It’s business as usual to them. Yet, Catholics are constantly criticized, even by some within the faith, for building ‘extravagant’ churches, not selling the Church’s highly-prized possessions, and holding (at least in the past) lavish, time-consuming ceremonies. Please. The Catholic Church has every right to be triumphalistic. Pop culture and its false gods do not. They drag us down into the abyss by elevating the frivolous to the divine.

So, as football season heats up, keep in mind that Catholics are required to keep holy the Sabbath. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying sports in moderation. Anything beyond that, though, is idolatry. You cannot serve two masters…God and football. America, it seems, has already made up her mind.



  • Beth

    We watch football more frequently here in part because it has taken the ace of all other entertainment. We don’t tv shows or movies any more because of the post modern worldview we don’t want our children immersed in, sports are one of the last areas that post modernism hasn’t sunken into yet, though it has begun. I will admit that the commercials and half time shows make is uncomfortable.

  • Der Tommissar

    Know what else Catholics spend an inordinate amount of time doing? Blogging.

  • Sheila Flanagan

    What would America be like if the number of “Catholics” who will watch NFL football games this season alternatively spent all those hours praying in front of abortion clinics?

  • Jan

    Sports n the enjoyment thereof are not inherently evil!

    • Beth

      No, but if you are not focused on God first sports can become a false idol. When outlook at the number of Catholics who attend mass and them look at the ratings football gets, it is a sound assumption that many lapsed Catholica are watching the game on Sunday.

      • Tyler

        It’s the same 60% of Catholics who voted for Obama.

        “All the problems in the world are due to lukewarm Catholics.” – Pope St. Pius V

        “Because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out.” – Jesus

  • Perspective

    I attend Mass every Sunday, I say the Rosary every day, I used to be a cathechist. I think you need a more realistic perspective. The world is not black and white. I love to watch football and I enjoy my fantasy football as well. Everything in extreme is unhealthy, so yes if someone spends all their money on football and does not have enough to feed their family then that would be wrong. It would also be wrong to give all of your money away to a charity or to the church and not have any money left over to feed your family. Anything in excess is not good. Football is not the evil in america. Oh and by the way since you don’t watch football “the onslaught of half naked women” represents less than .o1% of the screen time and only occur occasionally during pan away or from commercials, and then they are most often covered up by some sort of advertisement. Before you pass judgement, which is also a sin, perhaps you should know more about what you are talking about.

    • Tyler

      I think before making accusations that the author of this blog post does not know what he is talking about, you may do well to re-read what he has posted and better consider the message he is trying to convey.
      Did you miss the line where he says that football can “build character, instill a hard work ethic and teach self-sacrifice?”
      Nowhere in the article does he say football is evil, or recreation for that matter.
      He is, in fact, point out the extremeness to which Americans are now going to satisfy their sports lust.

      His final line is accurate: Man cannot serve two masters – God and football.

      So, while you may content yourself like the Pharisee by toting all you already do (I go to mass, pray the rosary, used to be a catechist), some people – in the spirit of true humility – are busy striking their breasts and accusing themselves after reading this article and saying, “forgive me Lord, for I am a sinner.”

      Finally, that .01% of nearly barebreasted women on television ought to be enough to justify turning off the tube on Sundays.
      You think our Lord would say, “well, it’s just a few seconds of near nudity here and there…I guess that’s okay.”


      “He who is not with me, is against me.”

      How is it that you are accusing Mr. Kokx of “passing judgment” when you are, in fact, more clearly doing that, and more directly (at him) than he?

  • Captain America

    I don’t see football as the most athletic sport there is. . . it’s a lot of standing around, and a few seconds of action.

    And I always get a kick out of old football guys considering themselves jocks and wearing the gear. . . even though they played 3-4 games back in high school 20 years ago! :)



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