The Value of Football (and Money)

Tim's son Saturday night after the AFC playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, my seven year old son, Kieran, and I were sprawled out across the sofa in a coma of disappointment.  Clad in our purple and black jerseys bearing the names and numbers of our favorite players, we lay…silent.  Kieran was obviously on the verge of tears, so I finally mustered the courage to speak and asked him if he was OK.

He responded, “Dad, I’m sad that the Ravens lost, but I’m sadder that you yelled so much.”

He was right.  As the Ravens benefited remarkably from Steelers miscues in the first half, I demonstrated “irrational exuberance,” and as their game plan devolved into an NFL follies reel in the second half, I came unhinged.  As I processed this unintentional admonition from my son—who was likely most interested in the game simply because of the opportunity to spend time with his dad—my conscience initiated a discussion:

 Conscience:  “You know that football, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t actually important or inherently valuable, right?”

Tim:  “Don’t be silly—of course it’s important and valuable!  Coaches and players engage in healthy competition, putting their wits and bodies to the ultimate test!  Tens of thousands of people engage in vigorous community at every game!  Entire cities, divided in so many ways, come together in unity to support their team!  Families and friends break bread and engage in fellowship around the game!  What’s wrong with that??”

Conscience:  “I didn’t say anything was wrong with football.  I didn’t say it was bad.  I said that it wasn’t important.”

Tim:  “OK, so what about all that great stuff I said about community and cities and relationships benefiting from the game?”

Conscience:  “All that stuff is good and important.”Tim:  “But not the game itself, or its outcome?”

Conscience:  “Right.  And by the way, what of that goodness did you demonstrate or share with Kieran during and after this game?”

Tim:  (Sigh) “Right.”

Conscience:  “But it’s ok.”

Is there anything in your life that isn’t important that you’ve placed above something that is?  How about MONEY?  What is it worth?  What is its inherent value and import?

NOTHING.  The money in our pockets, purses, banks and investment accounts is actually of no genuine value.  It’s literally worth only what we’re willing to believe it’s worth.  This is true…even if we choose to deny it (and too often, I do).  In the early 1970s, the U.S. went off of the “Gold Standard,” which pegged every dollar’s value to a certain amount of the tangible yellow stuff.  Since then, we, as do most countries in the world, have a fiat money system.  This basically means that our government prints money that we, as consumers, agree to BELIEVE has value.

But while money and football have no inherent value (I’m still struggling to write that), neither are they intrinsically good or bad.  When properly viewed and balanced, football delivers an excellent platform for building strength, conditioning, teamwork and community (and controlled exuberance).  Similarly, when the neutral tool of money is used to good effect, it provides, security, opportunity, aid for the underserved and myriad occasions for relational enhancement.

So neither football nor money are good or bad or important or of inherent value.  When overvalued, they have a tendency to stand in the way of that which is truly valuable—RELATIONSHIP—but when employed with wisdom and understanding, the result is a fuller and more vibrant life.

(For the pragmatist unnerved by the philosophical leanings of this post, please note that those who effectively neutralize football and money, aiming for a goal loftier than winning and amassing, often tend to win and have more.)


6 thoughts on “The Value of Football (and Money)

  1. Tim – THIS IS FANTASTIC! I can’t believe I’m reading this after just having a conversation with a friend about money that, although it had nothing to do with football, came to essentially the same conclusion – I like to have money around and not having it is a pain because it often limits specific opportunities or affects decision-making in various ways, but I probably don’t respect it the same way as others do essentially because it doesn’t have a hold on me like it does other people!
    I don’t want to be without it, but a while back I reached a point where I concluded I had enough. Not enough to stop earning more, but enough so that I have freedom from it, if that makes any sense.
    Thanks for sharing the story – I hope my husband reads and appreciates it as much as I did because he had several deep conversations with the television watching that game also…they were perhaps not very inspiring to my kids, I think.

  2. Great stuff Tim–I enjoyed the blog==it’s all about balance but it sure would have been sweet to watch an AFC championship game in Baltimore–with our sons—with a chance for the super bowl—with 2 more weeks of hype?
    well done,

  3. I was bombarded with thoughts as I read your post: what happened to that screaming Ravens fan? how could you be so objective after that game? how long did it take from the conclusion of the game for you to arrive at this point of clear objectivity? you have more money than me; and, I concluded, you are so very right. Thanks for the insight.

  4. Thanks, Craig. No question that I’d have preferred to learn the same lesson through a Ravens win… but a good friend (who happens to be a Steelers fan, so we can only trust his intentions so far) asked me if it would’ve been possible to learn ANY lesson if my team was victorious. Hmmmm.

  5. Joan, I appreciate the insightful questions. The best answer is that likely no one on this earth can melt my heart of stone more quickly or effectively than my children. Their naked vulnerability and lack of pretense is inescapable. But I’m still battling… I might have reached this conclusion quickly, but even thinking about the game still frustrated me for… well… it still does!

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