By: Dennis Bates
The sure sign that summer is fading into fall. Try to hold your enthusiasm back. Don’t get me wrong. I have always loved football. I even played on my high school team a long, long time ago. But the thrill is starting to wear off and the season hasn’t really begun yet.
I think it’s the routine that has sacked me to some degree. We have had season tickets to the University of Iowa home games for almost 15 years now, ever since my wife and I moved back to the area. North end zone, row 28, every Saturday, rain or shine, hot or cold. And we’ve had all of that…sometimes in the same day. It is Iowa, you know.
Saturday is the first home game of the season. Anywhere from 8-14 of us will meet at a friend’s house sometime around 7 a.m. and climb into an old, refurbished RV. About an hour later we will park in a lot designated for RV’s and begin setting up the satellite for the television, the tables for the food and the folding chairs. Over the years we have all been assigned different roles and mine is pretty much staying out of everybody else’s way. I’m comfortable with that.
From 8:30 to about 10:15 we eat if it’s an 11 o’clock game. If the game starts later, we still arrive at the same time, but we eat longer. We may go an hour or so later if it’s a night game, but we don’t have too many of those. After the game we unpack again, eat some more, watch other games on our television and socialize.
If we are lucky, we get back home by 7 or 8 that night. It makes for a very long day, but when we were younger and had kids still attending the University, it was all kind of fun. There’s just something about crowding into a stadium on a fall afternoon with 70,000 of your best friends that is exciting.
However, if it were up to me, I would watch the excitement on my high definition, big screen television at home. From my Lazy Boy. Around the corner from a bathroom I don’t have to stand in line to use. I’d even be willing to make my own hot dogs. How long does it take to boil water in a microwave, anyway? Just make sure there is plenty of mustard and ketchup.
My wife, on the other hand, is still awed by the crowd when the Hawkeyes take the field and the band plays the Iowa Fight Song, although even she is starting to suggest that the days get awfully long anymore. She is the real fan. I just play one on TV.
Routine has a double edge when you get older. On one hand, it makes things easier to cope with. You don’t have to think too hard, just do what you’ve always done. On the other hand, when you do what you’ve always done, you don’t have to think too hard about what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. Sometimes you forget the point altogether. And that’s usually never a good thing.
I see that in Sunday morning worship service a lot in our aging congregation and frequently see it in myself most of all. The fire and enthusiasm that once consumed some of us is barely a smoldering ember anymore. Where did the passion go? The fun? And the unbridled zeal that used to make us anxious to get up and go to worship on Sunday morning?
Why do we feel that we would just as soon watch it all from our Lazy Boy’s with our feet up, channel surfing when we get bored? Age? Routine? Or is it some demonic voice that whispers in our ears that we don’t need this anymore? Whatever it is, it’s time to stand up and sing the fight song again so we don’t forget that our God demands our praise and promises that we will benefit from it when we give it to Him…just like we used to.