My little UU congregation is pretty small, so when our fund raising honcho brought up the idea that we could make some pretty good coin by working at the Houston Texans’ football games we were a little hesitant. She did some research and said we needed at least 25 people to volunteer to work our stand. Ouch.
Amazingly 25 people signed up and I was one of them. I mean, through her research she said we could earn anywhere from ten to twelve thousand dollars over the course of the season. We’d be fools to pass up the chance.
Well, it didn’t really happen like we planned because like most things at my church, people didn’t show up. We need at a minimum 11 people to be there and most times we’re barely scraping up eight or nine of the 25 volunteers who originally signed up. It really sucks. And I hate to admit it but I was one of them who wasn’t showing up. Seemed like every Sunday we were supposed to be there something was going on with me. Hell, one time I was scheduled to teach Sunday school. It’s kinda hard to tell the preacher man I can’t teach our little ones about our UU principles because I have to go pour beer at the Texans game. Ugh. Looks worse to see that actually written out.
So, I finally made it out to the stadium about a month or so ago and have worked two games so far. I was supposed to be there a few nights ago for Monday Night Football against the Ravens.
I couldn’t get off work as early as I needed to be able to get there at 4:30. With a 45 minute drive from my office, I wound up at the lot where we normally park at 5:15 which was still about 15 minutes until check-in ended. I think I could have made it but a cop said the lot was all full and I’d have to go to the maroon lot. Unfortunately my only way to get to that lot was completely gridlocked. What should have taken all of five minutes to travel took me an hour and a half. Yes… an hour and a half I crawled about a mile through traffic to finally find a spot in the maroon lot.
Once I parked, I started walking towards the stadium but I was so pissed off I just couldn’t bring myself to go very far. I guess I was pissed at myself, pissed at all the traffic and pissed that I had let my friends down.
It was about a half mile or so to the stadium from where I was parked. Check-in had ended at 5:30 and I just knew that when I got there they would just turn me away. I mean heck, it was almost 7:00 by this time. I walked back and decided to go home… dejected and angry.
I think the thing that stuck in my head was all the people there. There were so many people. And it is no cheap endeavor to head out to the Texans game. I mean shit you’re talking a couple hundred dollars being blown on something as meaningless as a pro football game. That might be unfair to say. I mean I know having an NFL franchise boosts the local economy by creating jobs and causes the whir of buying goods and services all around it and then some.
But God!… it just seems so excessive. And then there are the tailgaters. I mean in some instances these guys don’t even have tickets to the game!!! They basically set up their living room in the parking lot of the stadium! What the hell is THAT ALL ABOUT!?! Why don’t you just stay home! Go to your favorite watering hole! Seriously… I saw a guy who had brought his RECLINER CHAIR out there. He had a satellite dish and his big screen tv, a smoker grill, 10×10 pop up tent, coolers and of course the requisite giant Texans flag and American flag duct taped to his tent.
God, how much energy and money and resource was poured into this exercise that really in the grand scheme of things is so very unimportant.
Again don’t get me wrong, I understand the economics of this and I like sports. Heck, I follow my Houston Astros when the boys of summer hit the field and have been a fan since I was a kid. I like the vibe that you get from being at the stadium and the camaraderie of experiencing it with friends. I get it. I understand the feeling of elation when the hometown team scores and you and your friends are at a bar and raise your glass. And I should probably mention, even my Libertarian bent tells me if you’ve got the money to blow, more power to you.
the humanitarian in me…
The humanitarian in me overrides that and tells me there are more worthy causes to expend my energy, time and money that are truly worth celebrating and rallying in camaraderie with friends.
So what do we do with all this? Obviously there is a balance to be struck. And this my friends is where personal ethics, teachings from your religion or what your momma taught you to be a good person come into play.
Personally, I’m glad the season is almost over and I won’t have to choose between teaching kids at my church or trying to earn a buck for my church by participating in the excesses of the NFL experience. Too hard to do.