Ah yes it is that time of year again. The time where everyone from the amateur arm chair quarterback to the CEO of a fortune 500 company will get their chance to manage a football team. Week 1 of the NFL season is upon us and that means fantasy footballers unite.
As I sit back and ponder the fate of my favorite football team in real life, the (as for now) Oakland Raiders, I have to sit back and think of the years that I spent chasing the Holy Grail of NFL fantasy football’s number one ranking on Yahoo or ESPN’s fantasy football league. BTW, the Holy Grail usually is just bragging rights until the next season, but if you are real fortunate you might get a trophy, we will talk about that later though.
Hours I would pour over match ups and history of the players abilities and their track records. You would look deep to find that one guy that everyone would leave on the board because he was too old, or too young, or he was a kicker. Then you decide is round 5 too early for a kicker or will a defense really make the difference this year? Do I draft a QB or a running back first? You pick up the local fantasy rag that gives you every tid bit of information you would possibly need to get you the leg up on the competition. Then enter the information age. Everything has now changed. Now it is at your finger tips. Every stat, every scenario, every player profile. From where they eat to how much they get paid, to if they can perform on artificial turf when the temperature is above 60 and the opposing team stayed at a Marriott Hotel last night. You can now have the app that vibrates consistently in your pocket on Sunday morning beckoning to the Pastor to cut things short today, after all it is about to be kick off time. We are connected more than ever to our fantasy football competitions.
Just to put this in perspective, let’s look at some stats. This is always fun to do even if not completely accurate. These stats are courtesy of Sports Management Degree Hub.
So back when I started playing fantasy football we still used pad and paper to record statistics. That would be around the 91-94 years. The change is considerable.
This goes to show ya that fantasy sports are not just for the unemployed blue collar workers, but it reaches across the spectrum and you can clearly see that even the educated, white, full-time employed, male is capable of chasing his dreams of being a fantasy GIANT!
Again, fantasy football knows no bounds. If you factor in that consumers spend an average of $465 per year on fantasy football and do the math, you would see that as a nation we spend $18.6 BILLION per year. That is 6X’s as much as the NFL itself and 4.5 x’s the value of the league’s top valued team (the Dallas Cowboys).
So, do you get the picture when it comes to this fantasy stuff?
So what does this have to do with the price of chicken wings on draft night at the local Buffalo Wild Wings? Well, I believe this has Kingdom ramifications.
According to a 2015 Gallup poll, America still proclaims to be Christian nation. In this poll, 83% of Americans replied to the question, “What, if anything, is your religion?” by saying Christian. Although according to Barna, that same group of folks are doing a poor job of making disciples of the gospel.
In fact there is a nice little twist in Barna’s study that caught me off guard. The twist is this. Many Christians in church believe that they themselves are discipling someone at the current time, (52%). However when Pastors were asked if they feel that people in their congregations were actively discipling anyone, less than 1% said that was a true statement. Actually the answer to that question is different than both of those.
The fact is that everyone is discipling someone of something. The question comes in as to what are we discipling? Are we making disciples of fantasy football? YOU BETHCA! Are we making disciples of the love of money? YUP! Are we making disciples of internet football information and daily mobile phone updates? ABSOLUTELY!
Conversely, are we making disciples of the one true God? …EH Are we making disciples of the truth of the message of God through getting the wisdom of His word within us? not really Are we discipling others so that they can encourage and make disciples themselves of other? signs say nope While 17% of the Canada and US populations combined are engaged in Fantasy Football there are currently only 20% of Christian adults that are involved in some sort of discipleship activity, with the majority of that taking place within the walls of the existing building (i.e small groups or Sunday service). I guess that I feel when Jesus said this, he actually meant it.
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Did I dazzle you all with my Google skills and my data collection prowess, I am in quality after all? That was not my intention. Furthermore for all of those friends out there engaged in fantasy football, let me say this, NO OFFENSE INTENDED. I feel these days that I need to preface every statement with that for the thin skinned folks that take every word I say as arrows in the chest. Maybe this scripture is for you?
But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Galatians 2:14
Fantasy or not to fantasy, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of disobedience to God himself, or take arms against the will of men to disciple anyone of anything, rather than choose Jesus and stifle the critics. In the end the decision is yours. Just listen the next time you slip out of service to make that last second trade because the injury report just updated, God may be calling you into something deeper than the promise of annual ritual of fantasy football. If I were a betting man, I would say that he is.
Oh and to mention that trophy thing again.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, Matthew 6:19