Watching Football Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Whenever New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, the college football games that are normally played on the 1st are postponed to the 2nd. This change of day, however, doesn’t lessen the number of games played and available to be watched on that one day. There are 37 NCAA Division I football games from the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, the Bowl to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The games begin on December 17 and conclude on January 9, but the big day is January 2 which hosts six games.

I have watched many of these bowl games through the years. I remember one New Year’s Day at my aunt and uncle’s house when we had three televisions set up in the den so that we could watch all the games at the same time! We’ve had a lot of fun being lazy-boy spectators. At some point in the day we all get a little tired of football. We have to get up and take a walk or play a game or do something different. There are, however, stories of people who spend so much time watching football that it puts their lives in jeopardy.

Years ago I read about a healthy 40-year-old bartender who experienced sudden, sharp chest pain on the night of January 2. Tests done during hospitalization revealed a blood clot in his left lung. Typically this life-threatening condition, a pulmonary embolism, is often related to an underlying illness such as phlebitis or to recent surgery or prolonged inactivity. When questioned, however, the patient admitted that he awoke at noon on New Year’s Day, lay down on the sofa, watched three consecutive football games and then went back to bed. For 40 hours he did not stir except for occasional refreshments. This extended inactivity suggests strongly that a blood clot developed while he watched the bowl games. The article’s admonition to football fanatics: a little exercise between games or during commercials should reduce this newest health risk for sports fans. Translation: inactivity is bad; exercise is good.

This principle of physical health is also a key spiritual principle. In this country we tend to see spiritual disciplines as important but not imperative. We pray but not sacrificially. We read the scriptures but rarely take time to ponder God’s prompting in our lives through them. We give but seldom in a way that hurts. We attend church services but don’t fully engage ourselves in worship and transparent discipleship. We want people to have a relationship with Christ but we are hesitant to speak of their need and of Christ’s solution. We are so often satisfied with the least we need to do, not realizing that our spiritual inactivity is harming us.

Spiritual inactivity may not catch up with us today or tomorrow, but eventually it will. In fact, because it’s eternal, it’s actually far more deadly than being a football coach potato. Isn’t beginning a new year the perfect time to get up off our spiritual couches?