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It’s college football time in America! Dozens of bowl games are happening over the holidays, and I, for one, could not be happier about it.

Here are four things I appreciate about college football bowl season:

  • Keeping it local. From the Cotton to the Fiesta to the Camping World Bowl, each has a unique and local flavor. In an age that is becoming more standardized and monolithic in some ways, it is refreshing that each bowl and its related activities—such as the Rose Parade at the “Granddaddy of them all”—we can be encouraged that each city, state and locality can embrace and display what is unique to that area.
  • Encourages healthy competition. Not everybody likes football. Some prefer baseball or hockey. Still others prefer tennis or gymnastics or pickle-ball. Regardless, we must take our hats off in appreciation to the time and effort invested by each of these players at all level to arrive at this achievement. It is truly remarkable what healthy competition can enable people and groups to strive toward. While football has its flaws, it does bring this virtue of healthy competition and striving for excellence.
  • Not everybody is a winner. I have spent much time around youth sports that tout “winner-less games,” wherein no one keeps score. Truth be told, the kids are already keeping scores. While we need to teach young people—and ourselves—that winning isn’t everything, there is something good in working toward victory and learning from defeat. With college football bowls, too, there are many winners, not just one. Isn’t that a lot like life?
  • Team over individual. Tennis is one of my favorite sports that is primarily individual effort. That being said, team sports have an inherent benefit that solo sports don’t. When one player does well, it’s a victory for the whole team. When one struggles, we all struggle. In this way, team sports are applicable to family life and to church life. There are, after all, no lone ranger Christians.

In the end, spectator sports like college football are just one aspect of life and society. But they are one aspect that have importance today and during the time of the Apostle Paul, who sometimes used sports analogies to communicate the Gospel. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

To all those college football players and fans out there, through Jesus Christ and His saving work on the cross, we can obtain a glory in heaven that is far greater than the gridiron. That truly is something that should make us cheer.