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Football and a Father’s Dilemma on Superbowl Sunday

Football and a Father’s Dilemma on Superbowl Sunday

Before the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos take the field in the Super Bowl, Patton Dodd, editor-in-chief of CNN’s OnFaith, reflects on his role as father and as a Christian who struggles with the morality of American football because of the Incarnation. CNN’s Belief Blog has more:

My son Henry was asking me for morality clarity, but I admit I don’t have it yet on football. What I have is deep ambivalence about a game I love.

On this Super Bowl Sunday, before we watch the game (Go Broncos!), my family will go to church together and worship a God who, as our tradition teaches, once had a body.

In large part because of the Incarnation, Christian theology emphasizes that bodies are sacred and that their sacredness requires us to treat every single body as an end, never as a means.

Every person is a subject; no person is an object. I have total moral clarity on that score, as all Christians (and all people) should.

Can we rightly weigh football’s risks as a society? Can football, especially commercialized football, be a sport that honors human bodies? Can we cheer the men who play this game without dehumanizing them? Can we support the afterlives of football players?

I sure hope so. If not, Henry’s questions will force me to accept, and to teach him, that the only proper response is to give up football for good.

For anyone who struggles with their faith and the violence of American football, a prayer For Good Use of Leisure, found on p. 825 of the Book of Common Prayer, might be a good place to begin:

O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of

refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our

leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our

spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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