Black Friday has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean holiday shopping is in the bag. In fact, leading appliances, electronics and furniture retailer hhgregg (NYSE: HGG) launched its second annual holiday shopping survey1 to uncover the truth about holiday spending habits and found that nearly one in 10 (nine percent) Americans put off evenstarting their shopping list until the final week. Even more last minute? One in three (32 percent) say they sometimes or often shop on Christmas Eve.My inbox is flooded with merchants suggesting last minute gift ideas. One of my favorite retailers even has a countdown clock in the works. The Advent Conspiracy would not approve! It would however support what my friend's sisters tells her children. She says, "Jesus received three gifts, so you will too." She frames the three gifts around a poignant theme: something you need, something you want, and something to read. How fitting, so here's a suggestion, Sports and Spirituality style.
Something to read:
Perhaps you want to give a gift to the ultimate football fan. While I do not recommend tickets to see the movie "Concussion," I do recommend the book "The Game's Not Over, In Praise of Football," by Gregg Easterbrook. I learned about it thanks to the Weekend Edition Sports segment of NPR. I was captivated by the author's bias and his point of view. You can listen to the interview here.
"He tells NPR's Scott Simon that football is a great game, but it's also the athletic expression of the United States. "It's too big, it's too loud, it's too expensive, and we can't figure out what the proper use of force is."
NPR writes, "The most popular sport in America causes head trauma. Some of its most famous players have been convicted of domestic abuse, and the game's most glamorous star has been accused of defying the rules with deflated balls.
Sounds like quite a marketing plan, doesn't it?
But NFL football remains the most popular, lucrative sport in America, even as fans question the game. How do you enjoy a playoff game if you think a team might be doctoring the footballs? Or that half a dozen players on the field have been accused of violent crimes? Or that a dozen might be suffering brain damage at the very moment you are cheering?"
Gregg Easterbrook ponders those questions and offers some compelling and practical suggestions for how the game can and should change. It's a book I want, need and would be happy to read!
Something I want:
Although it might be more interesting to hear about a literal want—a shiny new toy or court side seats (not going to happen), I do want to be more generous and charitable toward others. And from what I've been told, the only way to acquire virtue is to practice it.
What's important to mention is that one need not give $100 or more to make a donation count. I believe it's the practice of it, that does. I was reminded in "Women's Day" magazine that "seemingly small donations to the right charities can make a big difference in the lives of people going through hard times." One organization they listed caught my eye—for it has a connection to sports.
$10 purchases a bed net for a family in sub-Saharan Africa to prevent malaria.
As written on the NBA Cares website,
Nothing But Nets allows NBA Cares to join forces with the United Nations Foundation to not only raise awareness for malaria, but to allow our fans to be an active part of the fight against the disease. For a donation of ten dollars, our fans can not only purchase a bed net, but have the knowledge the bed net will be delivered to the people that need them the most through the impressive fulfillment process. From start to finish, Nothing But Nets will be there, and NBA Cares is proud to be their partner along the way.And how much do I love that "in the summer of 2013, Nothing But Nets Champion and Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry joined the Nothing But Nets campaign on a trip to Tanzania to donate bed nets in a refugee camp. They distributed 38,000 bed nets and helped raise awareness about Malaria." To find out more about NBA Cares the league's social responsibility program, click here.
Something I Need
Honestly, I'm not sure I "need" anything, material. I have more than enough. But I do need my family—near and far. I need my friends, they listen to me. They put up with me; they show up. They make me laugh. I need my Catholic faith; I don't know how folks live without a grounding in God's love and mercy. I need meaningful work, and I feel fortunate that I have it. I need my colleagues for their support and my students for what they teach me. I need music because it lifts my soul. I needed those tickets to see Springsteen on March 13, 2016 in Oakland, and the Ticketmaster gods were kind. I need sports and live sporting events because they bring me time and again to new emotional highs and familiar and painful lows. The Masters in 2016 is sure to be one for the ages. Eternal life may look like Augusta, I will give a report from this side of paradise in April! I need my alma mater because it continues to give to me in ways new, challenging and overflowing. Lastly, I need Sports and Spirituality—the class, the blog, all of it. It's my signature and it's God's gift to me...and my gift to God.
Thank you for reading one posting or one hundred. Merry Christmas!
Photo CreditsAdvent Conspiracy
The Game's Not Over