Sunday, August 26, 2012

Confessions of a Football-A-Holic

Disclaimer: yes, it sounds like this post is all about football, and from the outset you may think it is – but it’s about a lot more than just football. If you hate football or don’t care much about it – it’s still worth the read for the conclusion at the bottom.

We are only one week away from the start of football season! Preseason NFL games are already airing on TV, and we are getting to see our first glimpse of new players with their new teams (Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos, ya baby!)

I love football season! I don’t know if it’s because the game is so great or if it’s my parents fault, but I really enjoy watching games. I blame my parents because as a kid they thought it would be better for our family not to have cable or satellite. This meant growing up with bunny ears that only picked up two snowy stations – Fox and CBS. As a kid, I still tried to watch as much TV as I could even in the midst of the snow on the screen, but my mom always made me turn it off and help her cook or go outside to play.

The only day my parents let me watch TV was on Sunday afternoons, and after church I would always rush downstairs and play with the rabbit ears until the anthem of Fox or CBS sports rang through the basement with epic clarity. Growing up in North Carolina meant growing up as a big-time Panther’s fan. To this day you can find me at the office during football season with my customized jersey on over my work clothes. But my love for football doesn’t stop with the Panthers.

When I went to college I finally had cable, friends who loved football, and access to hours of games every week! This meant I could watch Thursday night college football, Friday night college football, college football all day Saturday, the NFL all day Sunday, and the pinnacle of football fame – Monday night football. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time with friends and alone watching the great American game of pigskin. [It didn’t help my obsession when during my third year of college, Appalachian State beat Michigan in the Big House for the biggest upset in college football history (sorry, just had to get that in there in case some Michigan fans read this J)]

The first time I ran into some friction regarding my football obsession was after I got married. For some reason, my wife wanted to spend time with me on the weekends and football was not a part of how she defined quality time. Weekends were the only time we had together because we were both working and finishing up school, and Sundays specifically were sacred to her. For the first year of our marriage, we had a lot of conflict as I painted my face for a day of watching games, and she put on her sackcloth to mourn being a football-widow for the day. We often had conversations that went something like this:
“Daniel, can you turn that off for a little bit?” 
“Why?” I would ask in a frustrated tone.
 “Because I want to spend some time with you!” (Her tone rising.)
 “Why don’t you watch the game with me?” (Tension still rising.)
 “Because I want to spend time with you!” (Tension still rising.)
 “Why do you hate football so much? You never watch games with me.” (This is my first mistake because I used the word never.)
 “We just watched a game last night, and you already watched a game this morning…” (Can you see where this is going?) 
Over the past 5 years of marriage, we have been working on my obsession with football and have slowly come to an understanding. In a way, it's actually become one of the coolest compromises in our marriage to this point. I pick out a couple of games each week that I really want to watch, and she tries to make it fun by making good food and watch them with me.

One of the biggest lessons I’m continuing to learn has to do with what quality time really looks like. Most likely your struggle is different than mine, but I think we can all learn something from this story. 

Maybe you and your wife both love football, and you spend 20 hours a week (like I used to) watching it together. Or maybe you are not a football widow or widower, but you may be a Facebook-widow or a Pinterest – widower. Maybe your kids are reality show orphans, and have to play by themselves so you can vote for American Idol or The Voice. There are lots of things competing for our time and every time we choose to do one thing, we are choosing not to do another. It could be a TV show, movies, social media, novels, working out, or whatever else consumes a lot of your time.

This blog ( is meant to question parts of pop-culture that go unquestioned. A lot of times we focus on the content of movies, TV shows, or a new song, but today I wanted to share my struggle because maybe we should also question how we spend our time. Nowhere in this post will you find that football is bad, and you didn’t hear me say that I am going to stop watching the NFL. But over the past 5 years I have begun to realize that maybe watching a bunch of overpaid athletes run up and down a field for hours every week is not the best way to spend quality time with my family. Can I watch a game or two with my boys? Yes, and I am already brainwashing them into becoming Panther’s fans too. J

But maybe today would be a good day for us to turn off the TV for a little bit, and actually think about the cost football, Facebook, novels, or Netflix might be having on our families. Maybe we should think about the time that we spend staring at a flickering wall, and think about the difference we could make it the world if we took that same time and invested it in things that actually matter. 

What do you think? Do you have a struggle that consumes your time? Should we even watch sports or TV at all? You may comment below...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Postmodern Anthem of a Generation

*NOTE TO READER: There is one use of the F-word in the lyrics of this song. 

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost.
Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for.
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know anymore.

When Nate Ruess penned these words, most likely he was trying to convey his own struggles, questions, emotions, and thoughts, as he has done for so many years. But in the end, he accomplished so much more than that: he wrote the anthem for an entire generation.

These are the lyrics from the latest hit “Some Nights” by the band called “Fun.” Nate Ruess is the lead singer and creative mind behind the band and has been in the music scene for 10 years, starting off in a band called “The Format.” Throughout his career, he has used his music to tackle bigger and deeper questions than most pop artists would dare touch. Instead of singing about partying, how he’s better than everyone else, or how many girls he’s slept with, he asks questions about the deep life including songs about the true nature of love, faith, purpose, and friendship. And, for the most part, he asks these questions in very artistic, poetic, beautiful ways. For that, we applaud him.

But is it enough to just ask questions?

Some Nights” is a song full of inner conflict and turmoil. There’s mention of enjoying his talents at times and hating them at others, as well as allusion to not caring that he’s less liked than others but later saying that he wishes it would all end because it would be nice to have friends again. In addition, lyrics like “So this is it? I sold my soul for this? Washed my hands of that for this? I miss my mom and dad for this?” are surrounded in the music video by symbolic images of civil war. Ultimately, the question is: Is this dream that I thought was worth investing every part of myself in actually worth living for? But ultimately, he offers no answers.

As a parent, you may find this song confusing, conflicted, and unclear. But that’s just what makes it so appealing to the next generation. They’re currently struggling with inner conflicts similar to Ruess. They’re all asking profound questions about life and purpose. They’ve “sold their souls” to something, and are now wondering if it was worth it because it wasn’t as fulfilling as they thought--but they’re continuing to live for it anyway. And now the next generation is  saying, “Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for. What do I stand for? Most nights, I don’t know anymore.”

But why should these words be the only thing ringing true in the ears of youth? Why haven’t we given them hope and purpose? Is it because we haven’t tried or because we haven’t found a way or invested the time to help them figure it out so that it sticks?

If younger generations think that life is meaningless, without hope and without answers, that is because we have failed them! We have not truly conveyed the Gospel, the “Good News,” that we claim to believe. Let us use this song, this anthem, as a wake up call to ourselves of just how much we have left to do. And let us not lose another moment in eradicating the hopelessness and despair that plagues a generation.