Any Given Sunday, on a Thursday

I had the great privilege last Thursday of joining my oldest son in celebrating his birthday by going to Gillette Stadium in order to watch the Patriots compete against the New York Giants.   Neither of us had ever seen the Patriots play anywhere other than on television.   It was, in many ways, an unforgettable experience.  We got to see Tom Brady’s completion to Sony Michel, making him the quarterback with the second-most passing yards in NFL history; we got to see a punt blocked and passes intercepted;  we got to see a win and the team we root for remain undefeated.  We got to see it all.  And it was glorious…mostly.

The traffic getting to the game was heavy.  We followed the back roads, knowing the highways would be crammed.  As we approached Foxboro, we were greeted with brake lights and orange cones.  We crept, along with hundreds of other cars, toward the parking lots.  Finally, we arrived in Lot 50, a quarter of a mile walk from the stadium.

The costs attributable to the game (tickets, parking and concessions) were substantial.  We paid $30 for parking and much more for second-market tickets.  We walked past the concession stands and decided to take a pass of a $10 malt beverage.  There was over-priced fare at other stands as well as team merchandise at the Pro Shop kiosks.  We could have easily dropped $1,000 during the night.

The comfort level of the seating was lacking.  We had to walk to our 3rd tier seats, zigzagging along the access ramps and climbing the stairs of our section.  After we adjusted to the perspective from being so high, we crammed our legs into the plastic formed seats.  Sitting in the elements (the weather was windy but dry that night), we were surrounded by every kind of fan – everyone from the loud and obnoxious to the quiet and casual.

The quality of what was presented was spotty.  The game itself was average.  There were an equal number of good and poor plays.  The Giants are not a team of great talent, and they played as expected.  It was a good game, but not much of it would be highlighted on SportsCenter.

The time involved in participating was excessive.  We left the hose at 4:30 and returned home at 2 in the morning.  While we didn’t tailgate, we could have (the parking lots open 4 hours before kickoff).  The game was a wonderful three hours or so.  The inching along in the parking lot to get onto route 1 was a frustrating 90 minutes.  It was a long and glorious night.

The experience was wonderful.  I got to spend time with someone I love doing something we love together.

… not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)

Why is it that 65,000 people can withstand the traffic, the cost, the time and the discomfort of a mediocre football game, but cannot do the same for a worship service at a local church?  I understand that the two experiences are not the same for many – our NFL experience was a once-in-a-lifetime experience – but I am puzzled that so many (especially season ticket holders) would risk rain and snow and spend large amounts of money and time to watch men play a game instead of attending a worship service.  Why is it that some would relish the petty annoyances of traffic and parking lot gridlock while others will not tolerate a longer message and a service extended past 12:15?

Thanks for letting me rant.  If you ever choose to come to Calvary, I promise that the parking will be free.

One response

  1. ​Hi Mike –

    An enjoyable article with a poser. I knew a few guys who had season tickets. I could never see the reason when considering the expenses, perspective from the stands – bring your “wide view”- binoculars, weather, seats, et al. Despite your rightful feeling of being with your oldest son, your experience is near what I had when I attended a night game in the 1970’s.

    A group of co-workers and friends decided to see a night game so I acquiesced. You addressed the parking, expenses, and the other discomforts that I endured although my friends were in awe of being in the stadium to see the Patriots play. Meh …

    The game’s outcome is lost in the fog of mental time. The weather became colder due to an incoming storm. I was miserable as we trundles our way back to the car. We were standing and talking outside the car in the midst of a whirling cacophony of vehicles of every type, horns, people shouting, drunken bodies ricocheting of vehicles left-right, then suddenly sirens. A state cop emerged around the front of our vehicle. He asked what we were doing after quickly visually checking our group then sternly told us to get inside the car, lock the doors and wait for the “all clear” signal to leave.

    A group of young males nearby had some sort of conflict with another group and fighting broke out, resulting in a young male stabbed. A mini-riot ensued. We were cleared to leave at 0350. The two hour-plus ride home was not a happy one. I never thought about attending another game. The Celtics games, however, were a delight in comparison.

    Be well.

    Frank

    ________________________________

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