In 2009 I wrote a book called God & Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC. I wrote it for people who wonder if fasting on signing day will help your team sign a better class, or if it will just leave you hungry. I wrote it for people who skip church following a loss, preferring to stay in bed and read Lamentations. I wrote it for people who find themselves breaking six of the Ten Commandments every time they hear the name Nick Saban. I wrote it for people just like me.
The book hit stores and a few people bought it and soon I was hearing from readers, most of them just as messed up as me. I remember thinking, ‘Great, I’ve created a community of like-minded Christian sports fanatics. I just wish we could do something.’
I was thinking about that when I wrapped up my latest book, Love Thy Rival, a look at what sport’s greatest rivalries can teach us about loving our enemies. In the closing chapter a pastor asks me if my sports fanaticism is bringing glory to God, and after some reflection I had an idea.
I spoke to some friends at Samaritan’s Purse, a faith-based non-profit in North Carolina, and they liked the idea of a rival giving campaign. We picked a project, and last week we kicked off the campaign.
We’re asking rival fans to donate money in hopes of raising $40,000 to build a women’s and children’s clinic in Petit-Goave, Haiti. In just five days we’ve raised over $5,357, with over $4,000 more pledged. To keep it fun and competitive we’re keeping up with which fan base donates the most, and Samaritan’s Purse will honor that team’s fans with a small plaque in the new clinic. I know crystal footballs are nice, but this is the trophy you really want to win.
The campaign lasts until February 1st, and though we still have around $31,000 to raise, I’m optimistic. I know that’s a lot of money, but if 365 people will donate the face value of an Auburn-Georgia ticket ($85), we’ll meet our goal.
I do hope you’ll go learn more about the Petit Goave clinic project, and consider making a gift.
(Oh, and for those interested in such things, Alabama currently leads Auburn $1,823 to $1,606)
To read an excerpt (a good one, about the 2010 Iron Bowl) from Love Thy Rival, go here.
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