Earlier tonight, as I waited in line for the drive-up at my pharmacy, I noticed the huge truck in front of me had a decal with a menacing elephant, and ALABAMA beneath it.  It also had an ALABAMA ROLL TIDE license-tag frame, but with a Florida tag.  Odds are the man in the truck was not an alumnus of the University of Alabama. 

Being an Auburn alumnus (I attended Auburn University my first year), I considered shouting “War Eagle” to the man, just for fun.   The fact is that the Alabama and Auburn football teams have always been equally worthy opponents of one another–as proven by the fame of their rivalry.  Yet I respect both universities, not for their athletics, but their academics. 

Still, so many people consider football games as if they were wars–and this is what’s ridiculous.  There’s a wonderful essay on this subject entitled, The Decline of Sport, by E.B. White–in which White jocularly predicts a future when sports become more important than politics.  And somewhat disturbingly, some of his fantasies are becoming realities.

The fatal stampedes and riots at sporting events around the world illustrate the shift from fandom to fanaticism.  So do the fights between parents of child athletes. 

I remember a church singles activity once, in which we were watching a college football game on television.  The camera panned to the gorgeous cheerleaders for a moment–and when it panned back, I jokingly said, “No, no–go back to the girls!”  Then one of the guys looked at me with utter severity, and said, “You’ve got your priorities all mixed up!”  And arguably I had.

But so do those who take sports more seriously than wars and catastrophes.  And there are alot of people who do.  I want Auburn to beat Alabama next year, get back on that winning streak.  However, this is not nearly as important to me as the real life-and-death struggles around the world.

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