Coach Gene Chizik’s first public comment after winning the national championship of college football was “God was on our side tonight.” This kind of emotion just seconds after his team kicked a last second field goal to break a tie game is certainly understandable, but shouldn’t it at least be discouraged? Am I the only one who finds the notion of God taking sides in a football game (even one for the national championship and a half million dollar bonus for the coach) at least borderline blasphemous? Does one suppose the Oregon coach was on the other side of the field feeling that if he and his players had been more worthy of God’s favor they would have been champions? I doubt it. More likely he was thinking that when it mattered most, his team was not able to stop the Auburn offense on that last drive.
Many of us can identify with the feelings that follow on the heels of a close call that ended well, like a narrowly avoided car crash, or a miraculous recovery from a dreaded disease. First there is blessed relief then, perhaps, a thought like “Why me?. Am I worthy of this grace? Is there a purpose to this event? Is God trying to tell me something?” And so the thought forms that maybe this outcome is God’s work. All this is human, understandable and perhaps should be expected, but should it be voiced on national television after an athletic contest?
What theological notion of God includes Him intervening in a football game? What conceptual construct envisions a God who allows the Holocaust to occur but can’t stand the thought of Auburn losing an important football game? I’m absolutely certain that Coach Chizik doesn’t really believe that God chose Auburn over Oregon. My guess is that in the emotion of the moment he felt so blessed that he felt a need to express it someway. Nothing wrong with that, except I wish he had found a way to do so without the implication of God favoring one team over another. Maybe it’s time for athletes and coaches to give some thought to their post game quotes. Surely there is a way to express feelings of good fortune without implying, or stating outright, that God found you or your team more worthy, and, by implication, your opponent less so.