What kind of football do you play?
Thanks to World Cup fever, I have really been thinking a lot about football lately. I am American, born and raised…have still yet to have the blessed opportunity to visit anywhere outside of this country, though I do have many dreams to do so someday. Being a tried and true American, I did not discover until high school (my teenage years) that the rest of the world is not referring to the game that involved that strangely oval-shaped pigskin when they speak of football. I discovered this in high school Spanish class during my junior year of high school. (Rather late in life for such a fundamental discovery, I know.) As our Spanish teacher was teaching us about words for sports, she said that the Spanish term for our “football” is “futbol de Americana”. And she went on to explain that the reason they refer to our “football” as literally “football of America” or more accurately “American football” is because the Spanish word for soccer is “futbol”…needing no identifier of what country’s version of football it is. She explained that we Americans are the only country in the world who does not think of what we know of as soccer when the term football is used.
As I think about this drastic difference in the same word depending on where geographically it is being used, I realize something pretty major. You see, in “futbol de Americana”, our players really don’t use their feet much at all…other than to run around alot and jump a bit. I’m not saying they are not athletic and talented, but just saying that the name “football” doesn’t really accurately describe that sport. Maybe “body ball” or even some form of “hand ball”, but the amount of time the ball actually spends in contact with the players’ feet is very minimal. Even the amount of players that contact the ball with their feet is quite minimal…two players on each very large team…maybe one or two more if a backup needs to step in for one or both of those at some time. And often those players are ones who have been recruited at some point in their lives from the sport of…football…soccer!
Contrast American football to…well…football (soccer for us Americans). In that sport, there is almost constant contact between the players’ feet and the ball. And…almost every player gets their feet on the ball quite a bit, relatively at least. (By the way, I definitely cannot in any way claim to be an expert on either type of football…or any sport, for that matter. Ask my husband, he’ll tell you.)
So, with the football comparisons in my mind, I am drawn to consider which type of football I play in life.
Like in futbol de Americana, do I barely get my feet in the game (of sharing my faith and the Reason for it) and in contact with the Central Focus (God’s Word) of the game?
Like in futbol de Americana, do I depend on a small number of people who appear to be experts in areas I am not to do all of the Foot Contact and punt the Ball of God’s Word FOR ME to those who are waiting with open arms to receive it?
Like in futbol de Americana, is my message for Him limited to only a very small area near me rather than reaching out beyond my comfort zone and beyond the bounds of borders (even very close borders like those of my local church, my part of town, my home)?
Like in football, do I get in there and use my feet to propel the Ball of His Word into whatever direction is necessary at the moment to head a bit closer toward making a goal (of reaching someone for Christ)?
Like in football, do I join in with almost everyone else on the team and give my feet some time in contact with the Ball right along with the rest of them, and even take on the role of being the one driving that Ball right into the goal when necessary while at other times taking the role of passing it along to the next player who is in better position to make that victorious kick/shot?
Like in football, does my message for Him know limitless bounds? Is my message for Him recognized and heard beyond the borders of any established place of comfort and safety for me?
I hope you followed me with all of that and didn’t get lost. I really thought it was a very worthy comparison. Please don’t mistake me for saying that our American football is not a sport I respect or enjoy…I LOVE IT! (especially since my New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl this year!!! Who DAT!?!) But, I do think the rest of the world has a valid point about the name of “our” game versus the name of “theirs”. And even more valid when compared in this way.
A couple of closing thoughts for you as you, too, consider the question “What kind of football do you play?”…
“And he (Abraham) is also the father of…(those) who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had…” (Romans 4:12)
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ “ (Isaiah 52:7)
What beautiful, faithful feet!