A Texas Baptist ethicist compared the Lone Star State’s obsession with football to idol worship in the wake of the unfolding sexual assault scandal at Baylor University.
“Football has become one of our false gods,” Ferrell Foster, director of ethics and justice for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, said in a commentary article June 1.
Foster said no different than people of ancient times, Christians today struggle with “false gods” that come in forms such as money, power and fame. One of his biggest, he confessed, is sports, and especially Texas football.
“We have gotten so out of hand with football that we are putting the safety and well being of women at risk” Foster said. “We do this when we do not hold football players to the same ethical and criminal standards as others.”
Foster said some of his fondest memories are watching football with family or friends, including when he was given four tickets to a Baylor game in 2012 and with his daughter took two of his grandchildren to their first college game in Waco.
“Not all people have great memories from Baylor’s magical run of football success during recent years,” Foster said. “We now know that a number of football players sexually assaulted women and the university failed to respond appropriately. Baylor has now admitted its terrible errors and is moving to clean up its act.”
Foster said the Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated university “let football get the best of it.”
“All of us who place too much emphasis on football success are somewhat to blame. We expect our ‘schools’ to win or else. It’s a little different expecting professional teams to win, but schools are supposed to be about educating and preparing young people for life as healthy, productive adults. The way we often do football in Texas misses the mark.”
Foster said his concern is not so much over what happens on the field. Two of his childhood heroes — Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry and quarterback Roger Staubach — competed at the sport’s highest level “but also conveyed to the world that football ranked behind their relationship with God.”
Foster said while attention now is focused on Baylor, “evidence throughout the country points to a football culture that is connected to violence off the field, especially against women.”
“False gods eventually destroy and devour,” Foster said. “Football can be a great experience for players, coaches and fans, but it can also consume lives both on and off the field.”
Foster said it isn’t surprising when non-Christians get caught up with false gods, but he expects more “from people like me who call ourselves Christians and say we are seeking to walk more faithfully with Christ.”
“Our lives reveal our false gods, even the ones we did not expect. Enjoy football; don’t worship it and bow down at the idol of winning. Judgment always comes. Worship belongs to God alone.”