A Theology of Football
One of the problems with the game of American football is that it contains certain unpleasant features…
A game that emerged from elite colleges in the East, that so inspired the middle class masses that they built gladiatorial arenas such as the world had never before seen, and dominated by the ethics of the “muscular Christianity” of its early legendary coaches like Amos Alonzo Stagg, doggedly American in every way–must it not produce its Homer, or its Vergil? It was a game of vigor and violence reflecting the fading frontier, requiring the organization of the new industrial age, able to absorb both the hopes of the immigrant ethnics and the Catholic masses, and the violent passions of the Celtic South. Do its own internal contradictions explain why football has produced endless folklore but no great literature?
Mencken was responding to the first theology of football, which was Protestant and slightly progressive, and therefore anathema to the sage of Baltimore. But not to Teddy Roosevelt, who as our own John Miller quotes, said, “Of all these sports there is no better sport than football.” [Miller’s book, The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football, is one of the half dozen best books ever written about football.] The President, in coaxing the elite colleges to discipline themselves and thus the game, meant what early coaches and writers portrayed, a game that built character, honor, courage, toughness, team and community spirit; and was a reflection of how a muscular God would want His covenanted people to raise their children in godly families, to be upright citizens, and to charge the hills in Cuba as the future President’s Rough Riders.Continue reading at www.imaginativeconservative.org