Have you ever gone to the south during college football season and wondered why there were people in the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon and not at the game? Have you ever yelled “War Eagle!” to a fellow wearing an Auburn shirt while walking down the street in New York City? Ever shaken your head at the pathetic parent who clothes their child in a Vanderbilt jersey? Have you sworn that you bleed Crimson – and that anybody from Arkansas is just a dirty pig? If you have, then God & Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC is just the book for you.
Written by Chad Gibbs, God & Football is a fast ride through the religion of SEC football and how it counteracts with his religious beliefs. With a touch of humor and graciousness, Gibbs talks about his travels to every SEC college to watch a game while interacting with various Christian ministries. Gibbs also talks about his beloved Auburn which, at the time of the writing, had just been trounced by Alabama, and how every school he visits has something unique and special to offer a die-hard fan of a rival school.
Gibbs’s journey starts at Vanderbilt, the school where many of us non-SEC fans are thoroughly convinced was allowed into the SEC to bring up the league’s GPA. Watching the Commodores roll to an easy victory, Gibbs reminds us early on that he is a Tiger through-and-through… a point that begins to wear on you by the eighth week of his journey (I mean, I’m a Cardinal all the way, but damn man… you don’t see me- wait, nevermind) by checking Auburn’s score via his phone. They won too, by the way.
The following week Gibbs is back at his beloved Auburn and… yeah, about what you’d expect from a middle-aged man reliving his collegiate glory days (you know, sitting around, drinking, eating BBQ while reminiscing about how great college was… forgetting the absolute suckage of remembering that you had 24 hours to study for your next midterm. Or was that just me?). Gibbs has a great flavor in his writing, and his tone throughout manages to keep a knife-edge between pure absurdity (his response to Alabama beating Auburn was… amusing) and Christianity. You really never know what’s going to come out of his mind next, and that is really interesting when one is reading about college football and Christ.
Good book, if you love the SEC and worship it’s greatness (or just happen to like a football book that isn’t like any other football book you’ll ever read), pick this one up. It’s a great story of life, and the end will leave with a lump in your throat that you will be unable to explain away as a piece of BBQ stuck there. It’s also a great look into how people, and society, no longer plans their days around church but their lives around football. Definitely thought-provoking stuff here, buried in Gibbs’ humor (buried deep, deep within his humor).
—Reviewed by Jason