This weekend officially begins football season in my neck of the woods.
In The South, we tease that sports are like religion.
But its not a joke.
According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the elements that keep a community together are ritualistic activities that take place in a public venue. He said that, while everyone should be free to observe their personal beliefs in private, citizens should be required to observe a public religion or a set of common beliefs represented by rituals, doxologies, and regalia. Such activities encourage good citizenship.
This reminds me a lot of football season.
There are plenty of rituals that surround a football season, especially homecoming. (Here in my college town we used to have a ritual of “rolling” a set of historic trees. However, a couple years ago some douchebag decided to poison them. He’s done his time, but the trees are dead nonetheless.) There are also all sorts of doxologies that accompany football. In my town we scream “War Eagle” at the top of our lungs and a fun little rah-rah-sis-boom-bah chant. The regalia is of course orange and blue everything and tiger-bedecked polos and khakis.
And with Pagan Pride Days rolling around in the next month or so across the nation, I also think about the kinds of rituals we will hold when pagans gather in communal space together. While we all walk different paths and follow different traditions, there’s at least this one time of year when we can gather together and celebrate our differences. We get together in some public place and enjoy (at least) one ritual that, hopefully, brings us closer together as a pagan community.
This is the sort of activity Rousseau says strengthens our community by proving our dedication to being a good citizen of that community. When each member of the community agrees to set aside their differences for one moment for the benefit of the broader community, it makes the whole community stronger.
Just like when my father, a Bama fan, visits Auburn on a game day. He wears orange just like he ought to.
Though I reckon he could be ugly about it like that arse who poisoned our trees. Just like someone could get ugly during a public celebration of pagan diversity. But then, that wouldn’t be good sportsmanship–or good citizenship.
Let’s all enjoy football. Here’s hoping your team comes out on top of this year. I’m pretty sure mine won’t; it’s been a rough road the last few years–but I support them anyway. Here’s hoping no one is hurt and that none of us lose too much bettin’-money. Here’s to chants and team colors and tailgaiting!
And here’s hoping your Pagan Pride Day, wherever you are, is successful and brings you closer to those in your community.
Waes thu Hael and War Damn Eagle,