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They tell me it's football season. I know this is true because, well, as I've just said, they tell me. As some of you have rightly guessed, I'm pretty good at croquet and decent at badminton. That's the extent of my athleticism beyond the fantasy baseball teams I had in college (the other band guys talked me into it). My friends often joke I know nothing of "sportsball," and they're not wrong.

The rest of the world is largely the opposite. They teach you in seminary that, on average, about 96% of any given congregation is going to have a meaningful personal connection with sports in some fashion. They played in school, they coach, their kids play, they always root-root-root for the home team, you get the idea. But that goes for the outside world as well -- and not just in America. Whether you call it soccer or football, it's everywhere. Then there's rugby, cricket, and a host of other things. Still, we're bad enough as a country that it's gotten to the point a Christian satire website recently ran an article saying football had replaced Christianity as America's biggest religion.

It's an amusing idea, but it's also not far from right. After all, each time a team plays, thousands dress in ritual attire (team shirts, jerseys, cheeseheads, body paint), attend or watch a specific ceremony following specific procedures (the game itself) overseen by those with knowledge of its inner workings (priests -- er, referees and umpires), and then seek to convert others to join them ("My team is better than yours! Cheer for my team!"). The difference is that no one complains about those games lasting for several hours. They love it when it goes long, they participate to the fullest extent they can, and they rarely complain about spending a lot of money on it.

You know. The exact opposite of how they are about church.

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