Tuesdays with Sarah… I Surrender All… Except Auburn Football

Baby Sarah... Always a Tiger!

Baby Sarah… Baby Tiger Fan 🙂

I have been an Auburn fan from the day I was born back on October 20, 1976. I’m not sure how it all started. It’s just the way it’s always been. I think it possibly started with my grandfather, Dr. Ben Clements, who was an Auburn graduate. My Dad was always an avid Auburn fan, and still is to this day. He might indeed be the most passionate and loyal Auburn fan in the world. One of my favorite memories growing up is having my dad jump up and play the Auburn fight song on the piano after every Auburn touchdown! So it was only natural for me to follow suit and cheer for the Auburn Tigers. ‘War Eagle’ rolled easily off my tongue, and I always looked good in Orange and Blue! 🙂

My dad representing the Auburn Tigers around 1977...  not sure about that hat though?

My dad representing the Auburn Tigers around 1977… not sure about that hat though?

One thing I have always loved about Auburn fans is that it truly does seem like a family. There is just some sort of connection that we all have that is deeper than football or any other sport for that matter. And no matter where I go, if my path crosses with another Auburn fan, I can guarantee a ‘War Eagle’ will be exchanged! Scott is always amazed at the places I have come across fellow Auburn fans. On our way to our honeymoon to the Pocono Mountains, I was wearing my Auburn hat. I received a hearty ‘War Eagle’ from across the baggage claim in the Allentown airport. I received another ‘War Eagle’ salutation in San Francisco for a work trip. But the best ‘War Eagle’ was at Impacto Church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I was there on a mission trip, and we went to worship while we were there. Lo and behold, I met this young guy in an Auburn hoodie! ‘War Eagle’ sounds awesome with a Hispanic accent!

Me and my new friend, Marco, representing the Plains from Tegucigalpa :)

Me and my new friend, Marco, representing the Plains from Tegucigalpa 🙂

I can count on one hand how many actual Auburn football games I have physically gone to, but I have had fabulous seats from my living room couch for years. Of course, it’s easy to catch a game when you live in the great state of Alabama. But back in 2007, my family moved to Union City, TN, and stayed there for 5 years. I didn’t get to see as many games during those 5 years, but my love stayed strong and I tried to watch as many games as possible. Like most people that live in an SEC state, I try and arrange my schedule around the college football schedule.

There’s actually a lot of time and energy that goes into following my beloved Tigers. And I’m no way as devoted as some. Like mentioned above, I try and arrange my schedule so I can see the game or at least listen to it on the radio. I have Bleacher Report notifications sent to my phone whenever it’s related to Auburn football. I make sure to have good snack food at the house for the ultimate game watching experience. And then spend about 1/4 of all Saturdays in the Fall, planted in front of the television watching the game.

But last year, some very uncomfortable and convicting thoughts started to creep into my mind and heart… Maybe I’m spending too much time and energy on college football… Wait, no way. I never miss church because of a game. I don’t miss important life events due to a game. I don’t ignore my girls when the game is on… I don’t think… I’m good. Nothing’s out of hand. It’s all in check.

But as this season rolled around, I felt with every game I got more and more stressed. Maybe because Auburn did so well last year, the expectations were very high. Maybe because the BCS is now over, there was more pressure due to the first collegiate playoff. But when we lost game 6 to Mississippi State, I got into a tremendous funk. And it got worse with the Texas A&M loss, and then hit an all-time low with the Georgia loss. I was just sick to my stomach and mad that I had wasted all that time watching these dumb games! The previous convicting thoughts started creeping back in, but I stuffed them back down as far as I could.

Then came the Iron Bowl game… the pinnacle of all college sport rivalries. Auburn vs. Alabama. I woke up and turned College Game Day on, and kept it on all day. The game started early that evening. I was so tense. I just didn’t want Auburn to get slaughtered, because Alabama had really turned it up the last few games of the season and we were playing in Tuscaloosa.

So I’m sitting on the couch at the beginning of the game, and for some reason, the girls and Scott decided to have a WWE wrestling match during the first quarter of the game. They were getting louder and louder, and I was turning the volume up higher and higher. I was desperately trying to watch the game, but they kept getting in the way. I didn’t want to be a jerk and yell at them to quit having fun so I can watch the game, but I could feel myself getting warm under the collar! Then it hit me: Auburn football is coming before my family.

WWE Main Event During 2014 Iron Bowl :)

WWE Main Event during 2014 Iron Bowl 🙂


It’s a 2 on 1 mattress fight!


See, Scott isn’t really an Auburn fan. Not a big college football fan. He’s a GIANT Kentucky basketball fan 🙂 And the girls are Auburn fans, but not really football fans at this point of their lives. So they could not have cared less about the ball game being on. They really just want Auburn to win because it makes me happy! But at that moment, my family was engaging with one another, loving each other, and I was missing out. Why? To watch grown college age men that I don’t know throw a ball and tackle each other. I missed out on time with my precious family to observe a bunch of sweaty strangers. Wow, just typing that out seems ludicrous.

At that moment, the game became second. I played with my girls and my husband. And the wrestling match didn’t last much longer, and I basically saw the last three quarters, although I wished I hadn’t watched that last one!

I’m not sure what will happen this week when the bowl game comes on. I have my DVR set to record the game. My current plan is to watch the game. But if I find that my demeanor is changing for the worse, or that I’m ignoring my kiddos, the game will be turned off. And I’m really not sure what the plan will be for next year. What if God asks me to sacrifice the entire Auburn football season?

Not to over-spiritualize this, but it kind of reminds me of Abraham in Genesis 22, when he was asked to sacrifice his son.

22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

I’m not saying I’m Abraham, and I’m not trying to belittle the story as to compare his precious son Isaac to Auburn football, but sacrifice is sacrifice, regardless of what it is you are giving up. Maybe God’s asking me to lay the Auburn Tigers aside. Even just for a season, to remind me of what’s important. And it may be that as I’m raising my hand with that remote, fixing to push the button to turn the game off, God will grab my hand and say “Drop the remote. You can watch the game.” 🙂

My challenge to you and to myself is to take a minute and assess your priorities.

Are you making unwise financial decisions by buying season tickets when that money needs to be going to taking care of your family or given to charity?

Are you missing out on major life events because of your team’s college schedule?

Are you letting time with your kids pass you by as you stare blankly at a television screen?

Are you missing worship on Sunday because you were out too late on Saturday at a ballgame?

Is the topic of your conversation more about college football rather than what God is doing in your life?

Do you know more about your teams stats, facts, and recruits than God’s Word?

I had to ask myself these questions, and the answers to some did indeed hurt my feelings. I’m not saying college football is bad. I think God gave us some wonderful things on this earth for us to enjoy while we are here, and I think college football could easily be one of them. But we as humans tend to take things to extremes, and it may be time to dial it down a notch or two. And whether or not I watch a single game next season, or for the rest of my life for that matter, I’ll still bleed Orange and Blue.  Personally, I think those are God’s favorite colors 🙂

War Eagle! Beat those Badgers!

The Smyth Girls After Iron Bowl 2013 Victory!

The Smyth girls after Iron Bowl 2013 victory!

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