So we've established that God and football are both pretty big down here, but which is bigger? Well, I've got a theory.

When you attend a church here, you will almost certainly hear people talking about football. Worshipers will gather before the service and discuss in reverent tones what went right and wrong the day before. The pastor will usually reference Saturday's happenings by either praising a team's win or mourning its loss, while oftentimes taking a playful dig at the misfortunes of a rival school. Churches sometimes encourage this blending of faith and fanaticism with "wear your team's colors" day or by having viewing parties for big games — with half-time testimonies, naturally.

Conversely, God doesn't get a lot of play in SEC stadiums, unless a player injures his neck or your team is lining up for a last second field goal. And sometimes God is called upon to do some damning — usually of referees or offensive coordinators — but that's it. The SEC doesn't really have to add God or anything else to their product to fill the seats. There is no "wear your denomination's colors to the game" day.

Churches have to schedule around football. Apart from tailgates and viewing parties, a church event planned on Saturday in the fall is guaranteed to be a colossal failure. So far as I can tell, the SEC does not have to consult the churches when it makes its schedule. It makes sense to me that if one thing has to schedule around another, then that thing isn't as important to the people participating.

Apart from Christmas and Easter, only tragedy gives churches those SEC-like attendance numbers they so greatly desire. The first weekend following September 11, all twelve SEC stadiums sat empty, while the churches were filled to capacity. Depending on national calamities isn't really the best strategy to increase church attendance, but what can churches do? The people have chosen today what they will worship, and it looks like God is a two-anda- half touchdown underdog to the Tigers, Bulldogs, and Gators.

The people have chosen. You'd think I wasn't part of the problem . . .


1. Despite the best efforts of Tim Tebow, Florida checked in at a measly 81.6 percent.


Copyright © 2010 by Chad Gibbs
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Chad Gibbs found football at the age of eight, found God one year later, and has spent the rest of his life worshiping one of the two. He and his wife currently live in Auburn, Alabama, with their dogs Bob Vance and Harper.  For more information, please visit www.chadgibbs.com.