Tony Miltenberger is a husband, father, and follower of Christ. He is currently serving as the lead pastor at Restoration Church Centerville, ohio.

When Football Became Family

Earlier this week my 10-year-old walked into the room and said, “Dad, I really want to hit someone.” The forlorn look on his face said it all. He missed football, he missed the contact, he missed his football family.  He missed hanging out with the guys, and to make matters worse he knew we were going to miss the end of the year banquet. In many ways the season felt like it ended too soon, and yet the season had run its course.

Strangely enough, I missed football too. Although the games were only a small part of what I missed. What I really missed was the connection that we had as a team. I had heard the other parents talk about this connection, but what happened over the course of the season was that the team slowly became a family.

Now, just as it is with any family, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops. There were moments of tension, there were moments that didn’t feel good, but just like with any family it seemed as if we were there to comfort one another.

I think football is attractive because the team becomes family.

Over time, the people who you sit on the sidelines with begin to morph into something much more important than just parents of other kids on the team. It is different than some of the other sports that we’ve been a part of, and I’m guessing it has to do with the amount of time we all spend together. Over time we became a community of support for one another.

The best word to describe it is, “oikos.” Oikos is Greek for extended family, and where the English would have that be blood related, in the Greek it is clearly extended to anyone who is in your relational world. Oikos is what happened to our football team this year.

I’m thankful for football; not because it made my son a better athlete, not because it gave us something to do – I am thankful for football because it extended our family. 

As a pastor of a local church, I was reminded that the church could learn some things from our football experience. Next week tune in to see my next blog: What the Church Can Learn From Football.

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