The Religion of Football

The first two weeks of 2018 delivered an intensification of the themes that dominated 2017. Our controversial President continues to push us toward monolithism. On the surface, the NFL and its national anthem protests appear to be at the center of the debate of who we are as a country. While it may seem many of football’s politically conservative fans are intolerant of any deviation from Judeo-Christian culture, this afternoon, most (if not all) of those fans will cheer and marvel at the Minnesota Vikings stadium entrance: the starters emerging from a long boat and jogging past Rune Stones in homage to the ancient Nordic religion. Looking on from the other side of the field will be the Saints. Named for a Catholic tradition but representing a city synonymous with nontraditional spiritual beliefs, to even say New Orleans Saints is almost an oxymoron. Though, it somehow makes perfect sense in our melting pot. Our celebration of these cultures seems to indicate that we are anything but intolerant.

Ironically, we strive to be intolerant. Yet, we continually fail. We cannot help ourselves. Witchdoctors, fortune tellers, and demigods captivate us. We vilify Pagans, but heroize Thor and Dr. Strange (a polytheistic god and a multi-dimensional sorcerer) at the box office. Our better nature embarrasses us. We see it as a weakness. I would suggest, however, that this is our greatest strength. We can be beautifully celebratory of diversity when we allow ourselves to be.

So as we watch the Vikings battle the Saints in a proxy war for Norse gods versus Voodoo witchdoctors, let us extend this admiration for cultures and spiritual beliefs different from our own to the Muslims of Palestine, the gypsies of Spain, and any other group about which we are quietly curious but publicly ridicule for political gain.

In that spirit, I make my prediction via tarot cards:


Three tarot cards, the 10 of Wands left, Strength at center, and The Chariot right

Finding the role players less effective than they were against Carolina, Brees, Kamara, and Jordan put the team on their backs in the second half. The Saints win in a come-from-behind victory.

The NOLA witch doctor. His face painted black and white holding a voodoo doll.

Picture courtesy of WWNO.