Columbia Star

Faith and Football



I’m pretty sure I’ve raised my kids right because they all have a healthy relationship with God along with an equally unhealthy obsession with college football. This past Saturday provided evidence I’m right.

My oldest child, our 22-year-old daughter, faced a bit of a spiritual crisis. She was home from law school for the weekend, and her mother and I inadvertently forced her to choose between faith and football.

Our church has started offering Saturday evening Mass again. The problem is, due to all the COVID restrictions, reservations are required to be made at least three days in advance.

Her mother and I, the Clemson fans, planned accordingly. We could go to Saturday Mass at 5:15, confess our sins, soak up the faith, and still have plenty of time to pick up some dinner before the 7: 30 season opener against Wake Forest. My daughter, on the other hand, is a Notre Dame graduate. Her team’s season opener against Duke started at 2: 30. That meant a significant portion of the fourth quarter and its conclusion would be happening while we were inside the church.

As the time to leave our house and head for church approached, I told her not to worry. Afterall, it was just Duke, but she knew better. My daughter was a freshman in Notre Dame’s stadium in 2016 when Duke came roaring back to beat her Irish 38-35. The game Saturday had a similar feel as Notre Dame clung to a 17-13 lead late in third quarter.

My oldest was a nervous wreck. A positive outcome to the game was severely in doubt, and she was going to have to find out about it later. I told her she would be in the perfect place to pray, but for some reason, she didn’t really appreciate that.

As we turned the television off and began the drive to church, two truths were at play on my daughter’s Catholic conscience: (1) Missing Mass is considered a mortal sin by many, but (2) being a good Irish Catholic and missing the end of a Notre Dame football game could be considered just as sinful by some.

So what did she do? How did she absolve herself of this moral quandary?

Well, she got a free 30-day trial subscription to and streamed the game on her phone right up until the lights came on in the church and the announcements began. Thankfully, the Irish scored a touchdown just before Mass officially started, and my daughter felt much more at ease turning the phone off to give her full attention to the service. Although, the 2016 comeback was still replaying in her head, so she had to ask for a little extra forgiveness during the Penitential Act.

She went straight to her phone after Mass ended and found—much to her relief—that Notre Dame had won the game 27-13. She may have had to run back to the confessional had the Irish lost, but everything worked out just fine and peace was with her spirit…and with ours.

Get copies of Mike’s new books Sunnybrook and 20 Years of Something on Amazon here.

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