For some strange reason, there just has to be a prayer preceding the action at sports events, notwithstanding that prayers per se have fallen out of favor with every entity from Atheists United to the ACLU. Here is the prayer offered before a NASCAR race in Nashville the other night by Pastor Joe Nelms:
“Heavenly father, we thank you tonight for all your blessings. You said ‘in all things give thanks.’ So we want to thank you tonight for these mighty machines that you’ve brought before us. Thank you for the Dodges and the Toyotas. Thank you for the Fords and most of all thank you for Roush and Yates partnering to give us the power we see before us tonight. Thank you for GM Performance Technology and the R07 engines. Thank you for Sunoco racing fuel and Goodyear tires that bring performance and power to the track. Lord, I want to thank you for my smokin’ hot wife tonight, Lisa. My two children, Eli and Emma, or as we like to call them — the little E’s. Lord I pray you’ll bless the drivers as usual tonight. May they put on a performance worthy of this great track in Jesus’ name. Boogity boogity boogity. Amen.”
One can only wonder how that entreaty rates in the Great Beyond, especially when – at the encouragement of NASCAR pooh-bahs – the drivers bump their opponents’ cars during races, sometimes causing dangerous high-speed wrecks, in order to get a high-powered edge for their “mighty machines” that God has “brought before us.” One can just see the angels in the clouds covering their eyes at the prospect of a crashing, smashing spinout, perhaps sending a new traveler to the pearly gates. Of course, the pastor prayed that the Lord would “bless the drivers as usual,” so was that supposed to invoke no trip that night to bivouac with St. Pete forever? Who knows?
How would such a prayer go preceding a hockey game, another sport in which a premium is placed on fights and skull-creases? First would come thanks for the lethal hockey sticks/clubs/whatever that make mayhem (and good gate receipts) possible, not to mention the padded armament worn by the players to ward off fatal injuries, at least. If the presiding invocator should have a smokin’ hot wife, he naturally would give thanks for such a blessing and hope no one is checking her credentials while he’s blessing the gladiators. If he should become suspicious he can just borrow one of those hockey sticks aka weapons and imitate the players.
Football is almost as sacred in this country as prayer itself, so there must be a prayer before an NFL game, in which, after the prayer is offered beseeching the Lord to “protect as usual,” the gangs of millionaires will proceed to knock the stuffing out of each other, sort of daring God to let anything bad happen since the reverend had specifically requested deliverance from all concussions, broken bones, torn tendons, and displaced kidneys, as well as ruptured tattoos. The reverend wouldn’t have to worry about his wife, no matter how “smokin’ hot,” since the NFL cheerleaders take care of that part of prayerful concern. As for the proper fuel, he would simply express thanks for the steroids and human-growth-hormones that make the macho-men fearless, lean and mean enough to totally disable anyone who gets in the way. As for putting “on a performance worthy of this great” game, the reverend could pray that no player will hurt/embarrass himself through celebration-gyrations after cracking someone’s collarbone, known to have completely thrown crotches out of sync and sometimes cause broken ribs.
A prayer before a soccer match is always in order. After all, people who bounce hard balls off their heads and occasionally crash their heads into the heads of other people trying to do the same thing to them definitely need help of an otherworldly nature…a higher power. The reverend might pray for a minimum of concussions, since concussions are expected to happen, else the players would protect their heads from both balls and other heads. Even the macho footballers dare not go into combat bareheaded since a simple concussion is preferable to an all-out skull-fracture, the obvious intention of any linebacker worth his tattoo vis-à-vis any quarterback (or for some linebackers, just anybody still on his feet, wobbling or not).
A prayer before a basketball game was once unnecessary since the sport was classified as “non-contact.” No more! Weight rooms are designed to make the famous HULK appear as a pantywaist compared to the seven-foot behemoths who roam under the basket these nights looking for their prey, usually other behemoths returning the compliment. The resulting collisions, calculated to rev up the fans exponentially (especially if blood spurts on the sensitive referees) are definitely a subject of prayer, since the multi-millionaire players involved might actually get mad and kill a totally expendable referee…may the reverend pray him onward and upward in that case. In other words: Boogity boogity boogity. Amen.