I was a Colts fan from way back when they moved to Indianapolis. I went to High School in Indy, and I still remember trying to grow a a mustache during the “no trim till the Colts win” season. The idea was that we would all rally together in support of the horrible Colts and not trim our mustaches until they won (they would be of the Fu Manchu variety, representing an upside down horseshoe.) They lost 13 straight that year, so there were a lot of hairy men in Indy that year (minus me–I had yet to have Fu Manchu growing powers at that age.)
I stayed a Colts fan when over-the-hill Eric Dickerson knocked the football out of his hands with his knee at the 10 yard line while showboating on a TD run. I kept cheering for the Colts when Jeff George was the QB even though he was easy to hate and when Jim Harbaugh was QB even though he was easy to dismiss.
And then along with true Colts fans I cheered for them when they picked Peyton–even when many analysts and non-Colts-fans thought they had picked the wrong guy in the draft (remember that!) We true fans just sensed that he fit our culture better. Boy he sure did! I was a colts fan when we made the playoffs continually and came up short, often because of the Evil New England Patriots.
This made the joy all the greater when the Colts won the biggest game of all. I still remember being the only family, it seemed, in the state of Michigan cheering for the Colts against the Chicago Bears that night. What joy!
I was a Colts fan when I read the biography “Manning” because I was so geekily into that guy. (That Manning family is a true dynasty are they not?) And even though it broke my heart to see it happen, I remained a Colts fan when they let Peyton go. I actually cried a bit, I’ll admit. I remained a fan because I respected the way the team was honoring Peyton on the way out and how respectable he left–understanding the decision. The kind spirit they showed each other, let’s recall, was the most amicable split of it’s kind in the history of the NFL. Think of how many parting QBs still hate their old team to this day–and how many teams dumped their star QB in a tiff with no respect.
I was also a Colts fan when they beat Peyton and the rolling hot Broncos on October 20, 2013. This was when the Colts were the underdogs and everyone thought the undefeated Broncos would destroy the upstart Colts. Of course, I remained a Colts fan the following morning when I would have traded the win bak to get a healthy WR Reggie Wayne back (he tore his ACL in the game causing him to be out for the entire season.)
I should also add that although Andrew Luck is quite poised, impressive and mature for his age, I will be a Colts fan after Andrew Luck is gone too.
True loyalty to a team like this is decades deep, my friends. In retrospect it seems like letting Manning go was a mistake… and a loyal fan may question the wisdom of a decision, they may protest, they may even BOOOoooo at times when the Coach makes a bad 4th down call or drafts a dud… but a loyal fan doesn’t switch teams because a star player has to go.
So, what does all this have to do with Church life?
Well, I’m thinking that a lot of us are fair-weather fans much like we’ve been for the Colts. We cheer for the star preacher whose podcasts are downloaded in a frenzy–but when that preacher leaves we leave with him. We will go to church when “Manning” is preaching, but we skip if they hear the “Jeff George” staff preacher is filling in on a holiday. We don’t rally around a church going through hard times like Colts fans did in that 3 & 13 season… instead we go “Church shopping” or even go find a new church that old pastor moved to.
Here’s the sad truth, of course: This happens more frequently with Churches than sports teams. In reality I bemoan the fair weather fans of the Colts but there is far more loyalty to sports teams than to our churches.
Why is that?