No offense to all my friends who are huge Dallas fans (and, yes, I have many such friends being the magnanimous and open-minded person that I am :-)), but I have always disliked the Cowboys and have made it a practice of mine to root for whatever team was playing them. Usually, I have been awarded the pleasure one gets for supporting the winning team.
My reason for disliking them was purely because even in the 1980s when I came to the USA as a geeky teenager who knew nothing about American football I was put off by the assumption that one team in one city from a state that I had never visited could be the de facto American Team. There was really no other basis for my dislike. I admit it. But perhaps because it seemed to me that everybody liked the Cowboys I decided to actually support a team that was winning at the time, the Chicago Bears. Since then I have been almost as disappointed as Cowboys fans except that Chicagoans have the humility to claim their team for their city, bad QBs and all, without arrogantly foisting them on the rest of the nation as “America’s Team.” Since I am virtually Chicagoan now I stick by the at-least-better-than-Cowboys Bears.
But that is not my point.
The Cowboys have passed themselves off on gullible Americans as “America’s Team” for years despite the fact that they have not been to a Super Bowl in a gazillion years. Well, 1996 to be exact. This year they were once again (yawn!) vaunted as Super Bowl likely with the highest paid roster, big name stars, a palatial arena, and all the accoutrements of royalty. From cheerleaders to stadium the Dallas Cowboys get all the press. They have it all.
Except for W’s in the win column.
Former Cowboys have dished out some scathing criticism, saying that the team is a bunch of stars who are overrated. And did you see Steve Young’s diatribe after last night’s game? Google it. Before the game Steve said that the Cowboys practice too soft; they don’t get physical or fast in practice. That’s a recipe for disaster in the minds of most NFL players unless you are part of the fantasy that is “America’s Team.” The Cowboys have drunk their own kool-aid. Jone’s kool-aid, to be exact.
It seems that the Cowboys believe their own press. They have imbibed the euphoria of gullible people who are distracted by glitz and glam and don’t have the insight to see the naked facts that are obvious to anyone who thinks that one thing a hyped team should do, among other things, is actually win. Even the Bears (my team) went to their house and spanked them. Even the Bears!
But the Cowboys can get away with being “America’s Team” and lose because they have money and money and money. It’s about marketing. It’s about loudly pretending a fantasy even though they can’t live up to it on the field. In this they have become analogous to the American Church. But the American Church is discovering with all the same dull and slow realization of Cowboys’ fans that money doesn’t buy substance.
Churchianity in America is more glamorous than any other place in the world, but it is wracking up losses in the columns that actually matter: truth, discipleship, evangelism, fellowship, and purity. But most people can’t see it. They become fans of a churchianity just like they are fans of their team. They wear the jerseys and get all giddy when the glittery stuff struts before them. Fancy websites, cool pastors, new rap songs, big crowds, snazzy facilities. But finally after week after week after week of disillusionment they begin to find themselves unable to rationally ignore the encroaching befuddlement that something’s missing. Like Cowboy fans are finally starting to realize that “America’s Team” is not doing one basic thing really necessary to please fans, winning more than losing, so some Americans are starting to scratch their heads and wonder why it is that they still feel empty after going to the church with the palatial building, the glamorous get-up, the feel-good message, and the star-studded roster.
If the Apostle Peter had been a football fan he might have said the Cowboys were “clouds without rain.” “America’s Team” in the football world is exactly that. America’s Church, having profited with the same marketing genius that makes the Cowboys “America’s Team” is starting to be recognized by people who know as all talk and no game.