A certain man was an avid Dallas Cowboy fan. He lived and died with every game. But, when Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys, he became disillusioned and thought the team would fall apart. So, he gave up his option on his season tickets.
But, when the next season rolled around, the Cowboys started doing very well. In fact, they did so well that they won their conference and were scheduled to play the San Francisco 49ers for the division championship the next week.
His interest in the Cowboys suddenly revived and he began to try to get a ticket to the game. But, they were extremely scarce. He finally located one ticket that cost him $1,000.
The day of the game came and the game was a complete sellout. There weren’t even scalpers out in the parking lot trying to get rid of an extra seat. There were no seats available. He found his place, sat down, and anxiously waited for the game to start.
Kick off time came and he noticed the seat next to him was vacant. Next to it was a neatly dressed, middle-aged lady. He said to her, “I can’t understand this seat being vacant. The game is a sellout. I wonder what happened to the person who has this seat?” The lady responded, “That’s my husband’s seat.” The man responded, “Oh, where is he?” She replied, “He died.”
The man responded, “I’m sorry to hear that. But with seats at a premium and the price so high, why didn’t you bring a relative with you?” She replied, “I couldn’t. They’re all at the funeral.”
A familiar expression this time of year in these parts is: “It’s football time in Tennessee!” And every other Saturday or so throughout the fall, the parking lot and bleachers at Neyland Stadium prove that this saying has genuine meaning. With a seating capacity of 102,455, game day is virtually a sea of orange. And once, on September 18, 2004, a record 109,061 actually crammed inside to watch Tennessee defeat Florida by a score of 30 to 28.
And now, we are being told that even this venue is apparently not sufficient enough. Thus, on September 10, 2016, Bristol Motor Speedway will transform its iconic short track into a world-class football stadium for the inaugural “Battle at Bristol”, touted to be College Football's Biggest EVER venue, featuring a border battle between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Tennessee Volunteers.
It is anticipated that the number of fans in attendance will be in excess of 150,000. If so, this will certainly become the largest crowd in the history of college football. Sports Illustrated points out that a capacity crowd will easily dwarf the roughly 120,000 who crammed into Soldier Field back in 1927 for the game featuring USC and Notre Dame.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Being a southerner, I like both college football and Nascar racing as much as the next guy. But,
being a Pastor, I know what the two annual Bristol races and the seven or so home football games already in existence do to church attendance on the following Sunday mornings.
Of course, packing out the Coliseum is nothing new. It was happening some two thousand years ago - not only in Rome, but in every major city of the Roman Empire, including Jerusalem, where a huge Circus Maximus or Hippodrome or Amphitheater was located. Suffice it to say that the Empire loved sports. At times, the games lasted more than 80 consecutive days.
Little wonder then that the writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews (10:25) encouraged the people of God not to forsake the practice of assembling together as believers on a regular basis.
Coach Butch Jones is currently in the process of rebuilding the University of Tennessee football program brick by brick. And his efforts are clearly beginning to show results. Along with any number of people in East Tennessee, I am glad to see this.
And, as the University of Tennessee football program continues to rebuild and to rebound, I am glad to know that they will invariably pack the house with fans. At the same time, I can only hope that God’s people will be equally as passionate about packing out the house of the Lord!
After all, some things really are more important than the playing of games. Among them, most assuredly, is the worship of Almighty God.
SOURCES: http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php?d=146507, pp. 112-113.
Cf. also: http://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/battleatbristol/; as well as: http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2013/10/16/tennessee-virginia-tech-bristo