“I know how you feel now being so far from your sports teams,” my friend sympathized with me while we passed each other in the hall the other day.
She was referring to the fact that we live in Chicago, but I am an unrepentant fan of Pittsburgh sports teams (and she is a fan of an east coast baseball team*). Yes, it can be a bit difficult being so far from the city where my sports teams live and play.
I can’t watch my teams play games that aren’t televised nationally. If I bring up 20 years of the Pirates losing season in a conversation, I have to put up with hearing about the Cubs. If I talk about the Steelers Steel Curtain in the 70s, it means getting the story of the ’85 Bears. If I’m at a restaurant watching a Pirates/Cubs game, I have to clap quietly if the Pirates make a good play so I can leave the place with all my limbs.
Now, I don’t mind taking trash talk from Blackhawk’s fans and dishing it right back out, but when I’m the only Penguins fan in my office of 200 it begins to feel lonely. (I’m not picking on Chicago fans; if they want to get into the spirit of things they can imagine living in St. Louis, Detroit, or Green Bay.)
There’s a unique sense of camaraderie when I see someone wearing a jersey or hat for one of my teams. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger and talk about last night’s game or the coming season. In that small way, we are friends because we are outsiders together.
I might live in Chicago and be part of it, but my sports team loyalties lie elsewhere. Just as Christians are called to be in the world, we can’t be rooting for what the world roots for — hedonism, idolatry, materialism. It can often feel lonely to be the only one wearing the new nature while everyone else still has the old one on. We’ve been given the white, purified jerseys of the redeemed souls of the Away Team and that should make us stand out.
Therefore, my fellow aliens, we are in a community of people that will ridicule, laugh, and shake their heads at our loyalties because we do not have the loyalties of this earth. Don’t get cast down at the cheering fans of worldliness. We have the ultimate victor, a great cloud of witnesses, and we have each other: to sympathize with through the sneers, or to cheer along with in the victories.
A playoff celebration is coming and the victory belongs to us.
*Not the Yankees or Red Sox. She is a smart girl. 🙂