Most football fans can relate to scoring a touchdown. Especially when seeing your favorite team or player score one you jump up and give high-fives, chest bumps, or take shots of your favorite spirits.
Well in the NFL, or what is sometimes called the “No Fun League”, this past Sunday Chris Johnson of the Oakland Raiders went to his knees and claimed he was giving thanks to God after intercepting a pass for a touchdown. He was immediately flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration. Chris Johnson claims it was because he made a religious display while celebrating the touchdown.
I’m of a different mind when it comes to celebrating touchdowns. The town I grew up in playing football as well as how I practice my faith I generally frown upon celebrating in the end zone. The way I look at it is that it’s your job to score points. I don’t chest bump my colleague each time I turn on my computer at work?! I don’t high-five the secretary for each message she hands over to me?!
It’s your j-o-b to intercept footballs and run them back for touchdowns.
Being a Christian means being humble. Combine the above with the Christian virtue of humility (which is annexed to the cardinal virtue of temperance) and you generally should be humble regardless of the situation most times. Wikipedia even has humility defined as modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect to others. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one’s own self, not unlike how Chris Johnson behaved. If he were truly Christian he would not have rubbed the interception in his opponents face and then make a fool of himself by kneeling down with his arms stretched out to Heaven.
If he truly wanted to thank God he should have waited when he was at home and prayed in private as God wants us to.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
— the Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:5-7
I understand that it’s a game, but being a Christian is 24/7. Granted it may be easier for some more than others, but we need to practice the virtues that Jesus taught us.
Just because Mark Gastineau did his sack dance, which looked eerily like a Russian folk dance, that or he was kicking imaginary balls in a sitting position, eccentric showmanship has denigrated the game. The Ickey Shuffle to Deon Sanders showboating antics, they all look like fools and adds nothing to the game and is not representative of being a practicing Christian.
To learn more about humility or humilitas or humus click here.
To learn more about the cardinal virtue of temperance click here.
For an excellent book that covers humility and temperance I suggest The Imitation of Christ by Thomas À Kempis.
For the Yahoo! Sports article by Chris Chase click here.