Musings from a “Christian” Vikings Fan on Eve of NFC Championship Game

This is a public confession. I am a Vikings Fan and I enjoy football. One thing about being a Vikings fan is that there is a long history of failure in Championship games. The four Super-bowl failures were still when I was young and personally do not remember much of those games. The first game of memory is the Dallas-Vikings game. At that time, I had divided allegiance because I liked Tom Landry. So I do not have the same angst over the Drew Pearson catch as a young boy, I rooted for both teams. However, the infatuation with the Cowboys faded and the connection to the Minnesota Vikings grew as I grew up into a man. The 1987 loss to the Washington Redskins is memorable. I still shake my head over Darren Nelson dropping the ball. The 1999 NCF Championship loss to the Atlanta Falcons is a bitter memory, was actually in attendance of that game. The 41-0 loss to the Giants in 2001 is less of a memory, as was in Brazil at the time. It is a long history of championship futility. It is to the point where Vikings fans almost really expect the worst. Recently I have had conversations with people who already have a loss in mind. In thinking about the game there are generally a few responses found in Vikings fans. The responses even are similar to reactions people experience in other life circumstances. It is worthwhile to a take a look at some common responses.

Expecting the Negative: This can really be a form of learned helplessness, or hopelessness. However, more often the view is if expect the negative there will be no disappointment when if the results are a loss and be even more pleased if they win. Such an approach is miserable in the end. Rather than taking time to enjoy, the focus is on that which is negative.

Engage in superstitious behaviors: Fans do this all the time. Fans engage in an endless array of superstitious behaviors. (Feel free to read my blog article on the dynamics of superstitions.) It is very easy to fall into thinking that if your team wins when you do any behavior consistently, that it was all about that behavior. The reality is nothing we say or do impacts the results. Sadly, Christians also take a superstitious approach to prayer regarding competitive events. There is even a viewpoint that can occur that God’s favor rests more on players of one team or another. Today, there are people who profess Jesus as Lord on all football teams, so any victory can result in God being glorified.

Apprehension and Anxiety: Watching competitive sports when you have an emotional attachment can result in fear and apprehension that the worst will happen. This is different than expecting the negative. Expecting the negative is a form of resignation. This reaction is more about the worries and fears related to the “what ifs.”

Overly optimistic: This response is one that many suffer. It is trusting entirely that the team will be successful regardless. It fails to take into account any of the strengths and weakness, but rather just looks toward success. Sometimes it seems like there a current that if the positive outcome gets repeated enough, it has to happen that way.

Simple fan engagement: This kind of response is one of trying to stay in the moment and enjoy the competition. Feel good about the success and bad about the failures. It is simply staying engaged at the level of what is occurring and moving forward.

Generally, the wisest reaction is to engage in simple engagement. Be aware of the past, be aware of the risks and concerns, but simply enjoy the game as it is. Now on a related and similar note, it is also interesting to look at the reactions the competitors can have that may be related.

Defeatist: This can be the belief that already defeated before start the game. It results in poor performance and results that reinforce the attitude.

Afraid to lose: This attitude in a player results in reactive game play and more often can result in increased mistakes. If you play afraid to lose, you most likely lose. This seems to be the case with the 1998 Vikings in the 1999 Championship game.

Overconfident: This attitude is one where there is no realistic evaluation of opponents abilities and over-evaluation of own talents. The overconfident are filled with pride and are ripe for a fall.

Disengaged: This attitude is similar to defeatist but different in that there is simply a failure to be emotionally engaged in the game. In competition, if there is emotional disengagement, performance can suffer. Emotions can impact play.

Emotionally dependent: For players with this attitude, they need the emotional reactions in order to perform well. Such play can be inconsistent as emotions ebb and flow.

Confidently prepared: This attitude is the type you want to see, being confident in own strength but prepared for what is come. This involves both knowing self and knowing opponent. This involves trusting your plan but being able to adapt to what happens unexpectedly. Having such a mindset can lead toward success, but does not guarantee it.

Both in terms of fans response and in terms of player response we can learn a lot about approach to life. It ultimately is about being realistically engaged in the moment with full awareness of the truth. It involves making preparation and being clear headed about what is to come. As a Christian and serving God, need to be engaged in the moment and not dependent on feelings. Also need to be confidently prepared, which means growing in knowledge of God and His love and His ways. There is no greater confidence than confidence in God. And all the staying in the moment is but nothing if Jesus is not the center of the moments. Feel free to take time and examine yourself, ask God to reveal any attitude or focus that needs changing.


2 Responses

  1. Nice summary Tim! Interesting!

  2. GO VIKINGS!!! Beat the Saints! … wow did i just type that? not very christian at all! 😉

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