4 Similarities between the NFL and Christianity

It took a few days, but I recovered from my professional football experience.

Rams Ladies FootballThe St. Louis Rams offered a Ladies Football Camp recently and, as an avid football fan, I quickly signed up along with my mother. Billed as an opportunity to participate in football skills and a fitness clinic, I eagerly anticipated learning more about the game and getting in a good workout. I was not disappointed.

Starting with warm-ups on the outside practice field in typical St. Louis  July weather. I was thankful pads were not a part of this experience. I was reminded of many days in P.E. as we got in line to do jumping jacks, push-ups, and other assorted methods to warm-up and prepare our muscles for what was to come.

Thankfully, we returned to the indoor (air-conditioned) practice field for the remainder of the morning. Football stations included offensive and defensive line drills testing our ability to react and change directions. More than one involved running in and around obstacles. Learning to catch passes included the knowledge to avoid jammed fingers (good to know) as well as less dropped passes. Last year I missed 100% of those thrown at me; this year, I caught every one.  Keeping my eyes open helped!. Passing the football rounded out the drills offered as we learned how to aim at a target…and hitting it.  I’m pretty accurate with short passes, but doubt I could do as well with longer passes.

However…the fitness portions were seemingly staffed by Satan’s minions intent on causing pain, or at least embarrassment at how out of shape we middle-aged (humor me) women were. These areas offered instruction in kickboxing skills – apparently something many of the players use off the field to stay in shape and work their core. The first station focused on how to punch and we learned 4 types. Not too bad so far. Then, they added kicks, which engaged leg muscles to reach targets that were waist high although it felt much higher. Finally, we found ourselves at the final station which focused on core exercises. Now, I wanted to know the names of the trainers in order to properly lament my fate the next morning.

As expected, I was sore for a couple of days but really glad I participated. I enjoyed the tour of the facilities (locker room, weight room, etc.) and talking to trainers,  some of the players & their wives. And, I gained new respect for what players endure to entertain us on Sundays.

Having had a few days to reflect on this experience, I have identified some similarities to our Christian walk.

  • PREPARATION IS NECESSARY. While stretching and calisthenics  may not be as glamorous as playing the game, the importance of warming up cannot be overstated. Without this step, the player risks an injury and being taken out of the game.
    • Christians, likewise, are wise to prepare through daily personal time with the Father. As we meditate on Scripture and pray, our faith stretches and we are ready to enter our day spiritually healthy. It was a practice Jesus modeled (Mark 1:35). Mornings are not mandatory, but meeting with God daily is necessary.
  • PRACTICE  IS VITALPlayers spend hours repeating drills that improve response time and reflexes. They also repeatedly run plays until near perfection is achieved.  Eventually, these moves and plays become natural responses on the field and the player reacts “instinctively” during the game to changing situations.
    • Christians grow through exposure to the scriptures. Early in our walk, we often depended on lists and other believers to find verses for us that address specific situations. Mature Christians benefit from repeatedly going to the bible to read, meditate, and memorize passages. Eventually, we realize the value of this as scriptures come to mind when needed and we “know” where to look for ourselves. Even without a bible, the words are in our hearts and on our minds as a natural response. The importance of Scripture and the value of meditation/memorization is detailed in Psalm 119:9, 13-16.
  • PRE-SEASON CAN BE DECEIVINGThe familiarity of working with our own team members on the practice fields can be deceiving in that we don’t realize our effectiveness until the season starts. Even pre-season scrimmages do not determine the team’s potential. Until games are played “for real,” the team doesn’t fully know how powerful or useful their weapons (players) truly are.
    • Christians may be fooled by thinking that the “game” is played on Sunday MORNING (or whenever the doors are open). Rather, our playing field extends beyond our doors and congregation members. As my pastor often says: The church is the only organization that exists for the benefit of those who are not yet members. As such, outreach must be part of our mission (Luke 24:47)
      • However, we need to remember that just as teams have those who regularly take the field, there are valuable members who make up the practice squad for between game scrimmages. AND, teams do not quit practicing once the season starts. They continue to practice to improve individually and as a team. Likewise, Christians benefit from meeting together as a source of encouragement (Heb. 10:25) as well as time of equipping by leadership (Eph. 4:11-16). Those that equip are as important as coaches and trainers are to the team’s success and share in the victory. (1 Sam. 30:24).
  • PROTECTION IS ESSENTIAL.  All teams may practice without pads on occasion, but would never forego this equipment in the real game.
    • Christians should not enter spiritual battles without the proper equipment. Our spiritual armor (Eph. 6:11-17) provides offensive and defensive gear that protects us.

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Just for fun,check out the Ram’s video from this event. I was one of the participants interviewed after completing a pass. You can see what we experienced…maybe you’ll join me next year???

 

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