I’m writing today as a contributor to the Christian Writers Blog Chain. Our theme for this month is Opportunity. Christianwriters.com is an excellent place to network if you’re a Christian writer or author.
Time for “The HA!!” – This is my mini-series on life lessons I’ve gained through my humbling sports endeavors… I LOVE sports but genuinely suck at most of them, and, therefore, I’m a “HA = Humbled Athlete.” Please check out the other posts in this series at THE HA!! page.
Having influence could come with a certain amount of responsibility… why didn’t God make it that way? Maybe He did, and we changed everything and decided to do things our way. Here’s a new opportunity…
A cornerstone of influence in our culture comes to a pinnacle on one day in the dead of winter… one day we all tune in to watch the arena, our heroes and the hoopla that makes the Super Bowl the icon it has become in our culture today.
This draw of our attention is nothing new… organized sports and its’ heroes date back to Ancient Egyptian times, and the 12 Olympian gods or heroes, including Zeus, Apollo and Hermes. If you see the statues of these barely clothed athletic studs you’ll find the origin of our connective attraction of athleticism with heroism… and part of the reason we idolize these figures. It’s all deeply rooted in history.
Fast forward to this past week and the Super Bowl and we’ll visit with the modern romance to chiseled athletes, adding a layer of cutting edge media and provocative commercialism that we’ve enamored in the most recent past, and take a glimpse to what the future may look like…
Seth Godin describes the marriage between the “epic muddy battle” and TV perfectly:
“… football, more than any other sport, is made for television. It’s better on TV than it is live. The combination of the play clock, the angles, the repetition and the opportunity for analysis all make it perfect to watch on TV. And perfect to run commercials on. TV and football grew up together, side by side. Instant replay and the thirty-second commercial, supporting each other.
It’s not an accident that the commercials are as much a part of the Super Bowl as the game. The commercials represent both the cash component of football as well as the cultural souvenirs that go with our consumption of the game.”
As media changes from TV to Twitter, how we move forward is changing. Maybe think of this transition as a season of opportunity…
I don’t think this shift is a chasm from building corporate wealth so much as hopefully redefining corporate culture. A Chick-Fil-A has a whole lot of potential to generate positive influence in our world today for the glory of God. Indeed, capitalism works because of our ability to choose right from wrong. In its purest form, capitalism aligns very well with Christianity (I am making a bold assumption that you align with both of these thoughts also. If not, please hear me out…). Now, since I’ve mentioned “eat more chicken” let me enlighten you to my image of this entity we know as The Chicken Sandwich: They’re appearing to be good Christians as well as successful at marketing their product broadly in a competitive market (btw, you’re completely missing the message here if you don’t click the link and head over to see Dan Cathy doing football with Shane L. Windmeyer).
Then along comes our hero. I personally have many sports heroes. Check out my Pinterest page and you will find a special place for them. I chose this chapter of The HA!! to highlight football because it’s unique in popularity in American culture, and I never played this sport competitively. Yep, I’m a spectator when it comes to football.
As a Florida Gator, I participated in the college-level extravaganza on many occasions. It started as a student and continued as an alumni. My second employer after graduating from UF was a Gainesville-based firm that invested heavily in college football. Our marketing agenda included dozens of season tickets that were allotted to clients attending pre and post-game gatherings, used to develop close relationships with the key people from both public and private entities throughout the southeastern U.S.
Somewhere in the mix of College Game Day, team spirit, and heroic moments our hearts warm up to the image and feeling of a hero. We let them in like they’re well-known… but in reality we often learn that they were complete strangers living in our own home. The whole spectacle is upsetting to us when we find out the truth about our hero… that sometimes he just wasn’t quite the person that we thought he was. Please don’t take me wrong, I’m not knocking the system here. Athletic scholarships are made possible by the investment of marketing dollars by major corporations. For the most part, the system works and we can and should enjoy our heroes. Moreover, an education is provided to many that never would have the opportunity.
The only real problem that I see with our fascination with the athletes is this:
- We don’t really know them,
- They’re people just like you and me, and therefore, we can expect that they’re not perfect,
- We tend to get upset when we find out they make mistakes and that they’re real people as well.
People who appear in the public eye are typically there for a relatively short period of time. Some of them show up by virtue of a specific talent or gift, while others may arrive with an opportunity. Sports heroes come and go. The truly great leaders and heroes stand the test of time and become icons. Our culture feeds off this entire process. Therefore, we define the process, or opportunity, to invite our heroes to perform on the stage of life. In many ways we define their egos. This is all a matter of perspective. Since we made them the heroes they are, aren’t we “driving the Bronco…“, so to speak, when we follow… love… and promote the system that produces “The Juice”?? While this football season has ended you can be certain that a new one is just beginning. Somewhere, it’s happening. That’s all cool, I just don’t want to hop behind the wheel when OJ pulls up and asks me to do him a favor. (Remember, OJ was acquitted, now didn’t that feel just like a puntrooskie?)
So instead of getting upset with the fallen heroes next time take the opportunity to help shift the paradigm to one that is realistic. That would entail justly accepting responsibility for our own attraction to the TV commercials and athletes, changing our perspective from saying there’s something wrong with culture in general to taking the opportunity to focus inward to our heart, and to God. An inward focus toward change will have more outward influence than you can possibly imagine. (Click To Tweet)
The Q: What opportunity do you see to test-drive a new approach toward having a lasting influence on our culture today?