Your Religion Might As Well Be Football

Something about spending my 9/11 obsessively watching football  made me think it might be a good time to re-air this piece (which originally appeared on the site on 9/12/2013). There’s some additional commentary at the end about my psychic sports predictions for the heads. Enjoy:  

Ahhh Football season. The crisp feel of fall winds and the sound of drunkenness in the afternoon. There is absolutely nothing more distinctly and disturbingly American than football culture. So, you get a bunch of dudes who may or may not drink very often incredibly drunk in the middle of the afternoon. If their team wins, they get increasingly wasted and elated. If they lose they get dangerously sauced and pissed off. Yeah, that’s gonna end well for the kids.

Don’t fool yourself. Football (or any sport for that matter) wouldn’t exist in its insanely bloated capacity if weed and hallucinogens weren’t outlawed back in the day. People would probably be more into fucking and playing the electro delay sitar. Maybe there’d be porno sitar players. I don’t know. What I do know is that alcohol is legal and because of that, football culture is fucking PERFECT. You work a dumbshit job all day but hell, it’s all worth it because on the weekend you get to throw back drink after drink and yell at people who could kick the living crap out of you. There’s a reason half the ads during football games involve booze. The most hilarious part is where they imply that downing cheap beer and watching football is going to get you pussy. Riiiiiight.

Did I mention I watch football like a crackhead? Yeah, probably should get that out of the way. Half the shit I write is making fun of me when you get down to it. So why is it that I find myself getting suddenly obsessive about other dudes calculatingly beating the shit out of each other every fall and winter? I guess because of my childhood, but there’s more to it than that. Christ, I only played like one year of organized ball before I realized I hated getting yelled at like a drill sergeant. Oh, and it fucking hurt. Fun when you’re young, but you start getting bigger and damn is it painful. With all the new information coming out about just how dangerous it actually is, this particular addiction should be getting harder and harder to justify to myself, but I’m more hooked than ever. Why? Why Man? What the fuck is wrong with me? I’d say the answer has a lot to do with it being one of the few things I have in common with people. Believe it or not, writing about telepathically summoning discarnate entities through sex magick (which I do on Facebook continually, like my page) isn’t a super crowded world at this point. I know right? I spend most of my time feeling like I exist in a dimension I don’t remotely jibe with and watching sports grounds me. Hell, I’ve even been known to go running for the remote to throw on Sportscenter at the end of an extended acid trip. Stuff brings me down to earth easy, reconnects me to the boring world of other people.

I like their football at least, but why is it that sporting events make so much goddamn money? In middle America a college football game can regularly draw a bigger crowd than basically anything. It’s totally insane. A reunited Led Zeppelin with an undead zombie John Bonham opening for Pink Floyd couldn’t continually bring in 100,000 fans every week. Church? Yeah, good luck with that. So, why are we so addicted to this shit? What is it about the allure of finite rules and collective yelling that compels us to give people money? The main reason I bring this all up is because of a study that was conducted at the University of Washington that went viral a year back. We re-blogged an article about it, but I never got to comment, so here are a few choice tidbits to refresh your memory from the UW website:

“More than half of all American churchgoers now attend the largest 10 percent of churches.”

Those would be churches with more than 2,000 congregants, think about how fucked that is for a minute, then continue.

“(T)he Holy Spirit goes through the crowd like a football team doing the wave. … Never seen it in any other church.”

And then this priceless quote from the study’s author, professor James Wellman.

“How are you going to dominate the market? You give them a generic form of Christianity that’s upbeat, exciting and uplifting.”

How you can be a Christian and selectively edit out the passage about the money changers in the temple is beyond me (sort of what got Jesus killed right?), but Wellman’s research essentially confirmed what I’d already known. I’ve joked about it for years. Having an interest in spirituality, I’ve tried to watch evangelical sermons on occasion and I don’t get it at all. They’re not actually saying anything, but they’re saying it all over-the-top-emo style (sort of like Obama). It’s like how you talk to a dog. The words are largely irrelevant, you just intone the meaning exaggeratedly. With some of the sermons I’ve watched, I actually try and summarize the whole thing to myself after the fact and I don’t have anything to work with. It’s like sand through my fingers. Boring, boring, sand. The whole charade’s designed to provide the same sense of collective profitable release that you can get from a football game (also on Sunday mornings), but let’s face it, way more people give a shit about football.

Pathetic that this is how our spiritual practices have devolved. I’m not saying there’s no positive benefit to feeling connected to a greater whole in a charged environment. The joy of collective release is part of the reason I go so apeshit for football. Even when I’m just watching at home, there’s a thrill in knowing hundreds of thousands of people all around me are yelling inappropriate insults at the same violent spectacle. Feeling that blood thirsty connection to your fellow earth brothers and sisters can be enchanting, but it’s not turning you inwardly, which is where the spirit dwells— in the world of dreams and ecstatic phantasms. I could get freaky here and point out that this desire for collective release probably has obvious sexual implications, hinting at our desires for orgiastic escape, but I’m not gonna touch that one.

What I will do is not let the scientific atheism geeks off the hook. Oh, we’re so much better than those crazy megachurch people. Are you? Last year Bud Light started running these ads where they play Superstitious by Stevie Wonder and joke about the utterly odd crap football nerds do to supposedly help their teams onto victory. Every time it runs it brings my mind to all the supposedly scientifically rational people I’ve known who for some reason resort to what’s essentially third rate witchcraft the second a ball game enters the picture. Basic magick involves the idea that you can influence distant events with inner gestures, or weird personal rituals. So why is it that even though we don’t believe in this concept, we for some reason act as if it’s absolutely true the second we throw on a game? Seriously, sports stars are some of the most notoriously superstitious people around. We believe you can’t influence material reality at a distance with our actions, but we’ll just act as if we can because it’s a really big game and last time I wore this shirt with mismatching socks and we won. I love the part in staunch atheist Bill Maher’s Religulous where he admits that he sometimes resorts to odd internal dialogues with forces that aren’t there and what not. Why is that exactly? It’s because spiritual experience is a basic human need. Telling people to just ignore this aspect of themselves is like preaching abstinence to teenagers. You can keep them purely rational right up until the start of football season, then spooky action at a distance is obviously legit.

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.
Thad McKraken