Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I Have Been Watching Two-A-Days

Well, this is my second highly critical post in a row of boob-tube programming. You will have to excuse me as we only recently procured cable services again. We usually do not have cable as it typically sucks out my braincells and keeps me from reading and interacting with my family.

Also this is my second post on television and it's intersection with football. This post regarding the MTV hit show, Two-A-Days is much more serious than the first. The first was simply frustrating and I have not given it much thought since posted. However, this is not the case with the present subject.

There are a few reasons why I have been watching Two-A-Days (here via the internet).

1. Most of the High School Students I work with are watching the show. It is and I quote, "better than Laguna Beach." SO, I was intrigued.

2. I am from Birmingham and my last address in God's country was in Hoover. Hoover is a suburb of Birmingham.

3. My nephew played on a couple of the state championship teams of Hoover High football and my niece was on the dance team. She will more than likely show up on the show if she has not already.

So needless to say my interest was piqued with sufficient reason for tuning in and suffering through more mindlessness.

Let me say up front the show has some qualities that make it genuinely entertaining. It has a few truly encouraging moments. There is not much ammunition given for those who would love to find reasons for berating the South. And the editing and music make for some intense game-time moments.

But that is about it...Really. Now that might be enough for my students (much to my chagrin) but it is not enough for me. The negatives overshadow the positives to the point of rendering the positives negligible.

So what is wrong with it?

Let me start with a few subtle things:

1. Since when do we suspend the rules of common decency and allow coaches to berate and degrade players in the name of motivation? The simple fact is these coaches come off as bullies growling and barking out obscene-laced insults: You're an embarrassment, dumbass, etc. No teacher would ever get away with this in the classroom. A DHS worker would be called to the scene if a parent spoke to a child this way. Hoover wins for certain and this is obviously the price the administration is willing to pay along with parents and players.

2. It is hard for me to believe that allowing a TV show to film throughout the day does not affect the culture of a school. Watching the show online has left me wondering how ho-hum the rest of school-life might be if you are a cheerleader or football player. And of course, the question must be asked if there will be residual affects for those not part of the cheerleading squad or the team. Maybe not...But celebrity has a way of separating itself from the common.

3. Speaking of celebrity...has it ever built character?

4. What kind of parent lets a TV camera pan across their teenage girl's body in a bikini? Not to mention the making out in the pool!?

Some of the above are heinous. Maybe not all of them. This final point is damning.

There is a theme running through the first four episodes and it is not the drama between Arrogant Alex and clueless Kristin. The theme is that for Hoover High and the city of Hoover, football is a religion. It is even stated by Alex, "Welcome to Hoover, Alabama...Where football is a religion and the players are celebrities." A cook at a local restaurant agrees. That should be an indictment not a cause celebre'.

Now that might be just innocent but ignorant use of jargon...except for the fact the team chaplain says and does far worse.

The team chaplain (name withheld here but made public on the show) is also a student pastor at one of the largest churches in Birmingham, just a few footballs fields away from the High School. Everything he says is in the context of the prayer breakfast for the athletes and cheerleaders previous to school on the day of the game. And he says things that made my heart hurt. If anyone ever said what he does to my students, I would publicly disavow them. I would call every parent and write a letter. From rooftops I well yell, "NO."

"OK, but what does he say"? The following is a list of the most obviously heinous that cannot be written off as edited. I will analyze as I list them.

1. "Let them know they (the opposing team from out of state) have come to the state of Alabama where football is King." So, I know it is possible that he said this after a devotional he gave. But even if that is the case, how can any team chaplain and minister of the gospel want anyone to prove that football is King...anywhere. Shouldn't a team chaplain yearn and labor in prayer for football players, etc. to play as if Christ is King? If football is King in the state of Alabama, then should he not have said it as a rebuke. This is simply an encouragement for these young men and women to be idolaters. Perhaps he did not mean it that way. But this pastor is older than me and I am almost 35. He should have known better. What a tragedy.

2. After letting them know he will be reading from Luke 12:35ff., he says, "Tonight there's a thief coming, there's a thief coming at Wildcat Field and they're trying to take everything you worked for..." He says other things about how they should play but those might have been edited in. But the quote above was not edited. He said those exact words. Now this will only be seen for what it is if we look at the passage he reads to the students...

"Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

So Jesus is saying that we ought to be ready for his return and as we do not know when a thief is coming to our house we will not know when he is coming. Jesus is comparing his stealth in returning to a thief.

The problem is the team chaplain for the Hoover Buccaneers proceeds to use this passage to say a thief is coming to take away victory from the Buccaneers. So not only is this bad hermeneutics but this is twisting theology to motivate footballs to "get up in their grill...stick it in their earhole and knock them off their feet." Listen, this is not just a slip of the tongue. This is not a semantic issue. This is bordering on blasphemy.

3. In the fourth episode, again during a prayer breakfast the team chaplain says, "Be a bold witness for the Buccaneers." And again let me say this was not edited. He might have also said, "Be a bold witness for Christ." Possible. Not likely though. A trend has already been set that leads me to believe he was truly concerned that the players not embarrass their community or school...he actually said such things in episode three.

Since I am a youth pastor, I take such things to heart and head. I have tried to examine myself to see if I have implicitly communicated such things. The fact of the matter is sports is a religion where I lived in Hoover and where I live now. there would be very little difference in my town if people once or twice a week walked out in the middle of a field and bowed to "the great maker of the ball that is thrown and kicked and hit and caught." Sports is a priority and their affection for Christ is a hobby.

1 comment:

Head said...

Hoover sucks...