Men are conflicted about the NFL. It has become a platform for politics and grievance. Men are upset because one of their established bastions of male bonding and celebration, Pro football, is being invaded by a national controversy regarding the flag and the national anthem. “We stand,” writes David French, “in respect because the flag represents a specific set of values and principles: that all men are created equal and that we are endowed with our Creator with certain unalienable rights.”
This controversy has forced me to elevate my fondness for Pro football. I enjoy watching and have used my interest as a bridge to connect with men. But I need to view NFL football more as casual entertainment that I can live without. It can’t be a preoccupation in my life. I wonder with John Stonestreet, why we have this present national preoccupation when there are so many other pressing issues to focus on. Could it be that we are witnessing a “descent into triviality.” I certainly feel this when I listen to sport talk radio as I drive long miles to see our children’s families. Sport talk is dead serious about this issue. It seems like idolatry because of the passion and commitment.
I keep thinking about Paul words in Philippians about kneeling. “….at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil 2:10). Could it be that men are caring more about things that aren’t important, while being distracted from things that truly are important. Bending the knee implies an allegiance to someone. I ask myself; “Are you willing Al, to kneel publicly out of reverence and submission to the Lord Jesus.” If so, it will influence my attitude as to how others view the flag and our national anthem. My commitment to Jesus helps keep this controversy in perspective. I can be more objective, respecting why others use Sunday afternoon for accusation and grievance
I wonder if some of the fuss about taking the knee during the national anthem among Christian men, is evidence that we might be wrapping the flag to tightly around the gospel message. While I consider myself to be a patriotic guy, I have a deeper allegiance to the kingdom of God. The symbol of the cross has much more significance for me then the flag. With Paul I pray, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:13).
I also wonder if there isn’t an underlying, unspoken discontent with men in regards to the NFL. When men are together enjoying the games, there is a kind of brotherhood that men long to experience. The political correctness that has brought a feminine perspective to the commentary of the game, seems like an invasion to many men. Professional football is a male sport. Women do not have the experience. This is what Cam Newton meant when he said, “It’s funny to see a female talk about routes.” He later had to apologize for this comment.
Again my contention is that if a man is secure and comfortable in his masculine soul, he can navigate these “minefields” of controversy, without emotional attachment. The invasion of the feminine is here to stay. Political correctness is integral to our national dialogue. With “the mind of Christ” (Phil 2:16) we can find a solid place to stand and still be able to enjoy the NFL on Sunday afternoon.