Fantasy football is good for the soul. Well, it is good for my soul at least. For the past few years I have joined the world of grown men (and women) gathering together and building fictional teams, watching football, and following stats as though they actually were coaches of real teams.
And I love it.
I don’t have many hobbies that have zero connection to any work that I do. When I read, I prefer to read books by dead theologians. When I write, I write about the Bible. Even my technology use is usually connected to ministry activities.
But fantasy football is different.
When I get home from work on Sunday afternoons, there is not much better than turning on the game, following my team’s stats, and watching some football. Fantasy football is just for my enjoyment.
Fantasy football is refreshing.
In Exodus 31:17, the sabbath is described this way, "It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” God enjoys his creation and describes it as refreshing.
Fantasy football is an opportunity for me to enjoy the good gift of God in NFL football. It is life-giving. And that might sound silly that fantasy football is life-giving, but it gives life in the simple fact that it is an opportunity to enjoy God’s gifts and to rest.
After a busy day like Sunday, football is an opportunity to unplug. Fantasy football for me is obviously about football. I love football. It’s obviously about cheering on the Lions and hoping for the best. It certainly is about getting my lineup set and seeing who I can pick up on waivers. But it’s about more than that.
It’s about the sabbath.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian wrote:
He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world already has been created and will survive without the help of man. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world; on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.
Fantasy football for me is about disconnecting from work. It’s about disconnecting from the everyday toils and stresses and doing something that doesn’t matter and simply enjoying God’s great gifts of football, the internet, and TV (this might begin to sound like I ignore my family during football season, I don’t but I’m choosing to focus on football for this post).
The Sabbath is about being refreshed. And in being refreshed we are given life. And we find that life in enjoying the gifts that God has given to us in creation and in redemption. We enjoy gifts like football and the internet. We enjoy God’s gifts of our family. And we enjoy the gift of what God has done for us on the cross.
And so I play fantasy football. And I enjoy fantasy football. Because in it I enjoy God’s good gifts and it is refreshing and good for my soul.