So how can a Buddhist like myself love this sport? I love it because it helps bring out the best in people, and contrary to popular belief, there is a job for every one. Little kids can be ball boys, the big boys are the linemen, the smart ones are the coaches, the fast and agile ones are the skill players. The meticulous ones are equipment mangers, the hands on ones are athletic trainers, people who are good with numbers are statistician, lastly the crazy people and even the not so crazy people are the fans.
Football has had an amazing effect on a countless number of people. That is not football is perfect . Just as in everything life, people have abused it. Some only play for money, some spend too much money on it, some cheat by using drugs and many have died in the process of playing the game. This is all true, and some may say that is goes against the fifth precept of full consciousness. I say that yes it certainly can, but it does not have to. Instead the fifth precept should be used as a guide to help keep football on track.
One of the first things anyone learns in football, is how to tackle. Tackling is perhaps the most notorious fundamental of football. It involves bringing an opposing player to the ground by hitting with you body. I have never tackled, so I say this from the perspective of someone who is deeply immersed in it, but when one player hits another, it is teaching them to overcome obstacles. When one becomes injured by the hit, they are given the opportunity to work to recover.
Overcoming obstacles can be found in most worthwhile things in life, so what else sets football apart you ask? Football combines the best of all sports. Football requires the strategy of chess, the teamwork of lacrosse and basketball and most other team sports, the physicality of boxing, the agility of track and field, the strength of power lifting, and the loyalty of baseball.
Football draws its strength from emotion, and feeling. In a loss, one often feels agony, and sadness. In a win, one feels joy and exhaustion. After an even match, both teams feel the same way physically. You can see it in the players and coaches faces, whether they are happy or sad with the result, they are exhausted. If they played a good fair and clean game in which they challenged themselves to new levels, than deep down they are proud. Football produces these emotions in a relatively safe environment. In football we Buddhists are able to experience these deep emotions which help show us what we need to work on.
If we apply the fifth precept of full consciousness to football, than we create an unparalleled learning environment for ourselves and others. In a learning environment, one can only grow.