Super Bowl Sunday reminds me of all of the days I spent at practices growing up. Since my Dad was a football coach, I practically lived around the practice field. I understand the blood, sweat, and tears that these two teams have put into getting to the big game. I know about the hours in the weight room, the film sessions, the emotional investment, and the physical beating. But I also know the camaraderie, the brotherhood, and the sweet feeling of giving everything you have and it being worth it. One of my favorite things about football were the chants that coaches and players would say to either motivate or unify.
In Junior High we thought we were pretty tough when we would chant, “Let’s Get Psyched Up.” Sure, it sounds corny when reading it, but do realize that after rhythmically chanting these words we would follow up by slapping our thigh pads twice and then clapping twice. It was so cool. Then in High School our Defensive line coach would conclude every drill with, “good, better, best – never let it rest – till your good is your better and your better is your best.” I love these chants so much that I created one for my daughter’s soccer team, “We’re rough. We’re tough. We are the Fusion!” Chanting is really big with eight year old girls.
But my all time favorite chant was one that my Dad’s football team at Colorado used to do. Now this chant was not your ordinary chant. The team didn’t do it at practice and they didn’t do it after every game. In fact, if they were lucky they would do it only 12 times a year –because they only did this chant after a victory. The word victory reminds me of another Junior High chant, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, that’s our Trojan Battle Cry.” Back to Colorado…
It may sound trivial to know that the chant was only two words long, but being a part of it was magical. The chant transcended the actual words that were said and cut deep into the emotion behind the words. I remember being in the locker room after we beat Michigan in 1994 on a 64 yards pass from Kordell Stewart to Michael Westbrook to win the game. It’s still one of the greatest finishes in the history of sport and what I will never forget about that game is the two word chant that began right when we entered into the locker room. The chant lasted four minutes! Now that’s a long time for a two word chant, but it just kept going. “Offense, Defense”… that’s it. The offensive players would begin chanting the word “Defense” in unison and the defensive players would return with “Offense.” The chant was loud. The guys screamed it with everything they had. The echoes of “Offense, Defense” would ring off the locker room walls creating a thunderous feeling. The floors would shake. Think about it. These guys had given everything they had and the ultimate prize each week was a victory. But the amazing thing about football is that you can have the greatest offense of all time, but if your defense stinks – you will still lose. What I’m trying to tell you is that football offers an amazing look into the virtue of dependency. The offensive team is so motivated to scream out the word “Defense” because they know the work the defense put into the game. They know that they couldn’t do it with out them. So they give it up for each other.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Jesus Christ / John 15.6
Dependency is a key aspect of my faith in Jesus. I have learned that there is nothing worthwhile that I can do with out Christ. Since I know myself better than you know me, you are going to have to take my word for it, but I have serious issues. OK – so maybe that isn’t so difficult to believe… The truth is that I am in desperate need of Christ and His guidance in every single area of my life. As a husband. As a Father. As a brother. As a friend. As an employee. As a leader. I seriously can’t think of an area of my life that doesn’t need Jesus. So the challenge for me is to remain in Him. My favorite definition of the word remain is: to be left after the removal. I love that because when I become a branch that is a part of the vine, I remove the selfish aspirations that permeate my life and what is left is total dependency on the vine.
Jesus concludes this teaching about the vine and the branches in John 15.16 by saying: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.”
Sounds like there is a chant in there somewhere…