Can a game of football be a work of art? I am not sure there were any neutrals in the Champions League final last night. There were Man United supporters, Man united haters and those who were mesmerized by Barcelona. I didn’t get to see a single second of the game but it was fascinating listening to the radio commentary.
The most effusive language was being used:
“this is the best football team you are ever going to see on planet football”
“I am grateful to be here to witness this event , it will stay with me for the rest of my life”
A game of football turned hardmen into poets as they tried to find language to capture the emotions they were experiencing.
Lionel Messi’s footwork was eulogised upon, Barca’s domination on the ball (66% possession) was applauded. Manchester United’s playeres were offered condolences.
Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly famously remarked:
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
Shankly has a point, is it possible that football is a means to know what the meaning of life and death is?
Its fascinating to watch what the beautiful game does to us – Peter Berger the sociologist argued that “Play” is a signal of transcendence – that which can help us experience the divine. Perhaps the beautiful Barcelona are a means of grace for those who have eyes to see it. Is their play a way of celebrating a creator God who has lavished skill and creativity on us. Of course there is always the danger that we stop short and worship the players rather than God that made them. But for those who have eyes to see it – their play could be a clue to draw our eyes and hearts to God.
But more than that in a well functioning team – where there is the beauty of selfless service, effortless understanding of eachother and working together for a common goal. Is there a hint of what we want all of our relationship to be? Is this a hint of what Christians call the Trinity. The idea that God is three persons but one being, a perfect community / family / team that human relationships are supposed to mirror.
Listening to the commentators and watching the crowds – there is something going on here that is more than a game of football – is it a homing beacon drawing us to God?