I’m on a brisk, five mile walk across the University of Georgia campus. Big game tomorrow: The Dawgs and high level, high class intersectional opponent Notre Dame. Biggest such game in decades. The photo is of the countdown clock on the set of ESPN’s Game Day. I’m walking by. There are 50-60 workers setting it all up. It’s Friday morning and I’m not sure what is 7 hours, 45 minutes, and 56 seconds away but it’s not the ball game.
This is Big Time college football. The stadium seats 92,746 and 500 additional bleacher seats have been put up to accommodate The Irish, since they were allotted more tickets than normal for a visiting team (but the Notre Damers don’t have to sit in the endzone bleachers, UGA students were kicked out of better seats and will be relocated there). Estimates are that an equal number of people will be hanging out near the stadium, in bars downtown, and just around. I estimate that a considerable number of them will be drunk by the time kickoff rolls around after 8 p.m. Big Time Party for 60 minutes of guys in bright uniforms fighting over an inflated piece of leather that weighs less than a pound.
I pass at least several hundred people working to prepare for the game: security people are in place 36 hours before kickoff, dozens of UGa employees are placing barriers all over the area. There are somber looking people in shirts that shout “STAFF” all around the stadium and campus even though the game isn’t until tomorrow. Electricians, plumbers, cleaning crews, and other workers are busy. I look up every thirty minutes or so to see a small jet on the landing approach to our airport. The FAA sends an air traffic controller for game days. The tarmac will be packed with private planes tomorrow. The rich guys like to fly in over the stadium, a pretty impressive sight empty or full. Tomorrow it will be restricted air space.
Check out the rows of concrete vehicle barriers waiting to be put in place to keep vehicles away from the stadium. Dudes on heavy equipment have to deliver them, pick them up and place them, remove them after the game, and transport them back wherever they are kept. Dudes make some chewin’ tobacco money doing this and other home game stuff.
All this costs big money but money is no problem here. The head coach makes many times more than either the governor of the state or president of the university. He’s the highest paid public employee in the state. The starting pay for a school teacher in this county is $38,592.16. Head coach gets about 180 times that much and he’s got a seven year contract. That’s capitalism. That’s the market. I’d rather the market set pay for folks than a faceless bureaucrat in a windowless office somewhere.
Ticket or no ticket, if you come early enough you can set up a tent and tailgate. Ordinary chumps send people to secure the choicest spots. Actually, the best spots are already reserved by the UGA Athletic Association. The prime tailgate location is a couple of hundred feet from the stadium and will cost a few bucks. The cost of a ticket is just the beginning. For as little as $2,800 you can reserve one of these 10 by 10 tents in what looks like tailgate ghetto. Comes with five chairs and a table. You can name your tent and they will put a small sign on it: “2 Dumb Farmers,” “Dawg Idiots,” or “Look at How Important We Are.” Bring your own food, though. No grilling allowed here.
So, where’s the culture war stuff? I’m not writing this just to irritate Dave Miller, though that’s surely a cheap by-product. We’re often reminded that we followers of Christ are in a serious war with the culture. Seminaries market themselves as the best places to prepare for these battles. We’re standing in the gap. We’re staving off barbarism, paganism, socialism, and liberalism. Maybe so, but we’re certainly not holding any line against consumerism. We welcome it. We embrace it. We celebrate it. We revel in it.
Have we advanced to the place, spiritually, where we can serve both God and Mammon? Looks like we are making a good attempt at it.
I can’t think of a single SBC leader who isn’t on board with consumerism. It’s just not on anyone’s radar that I can see. Nor I can’t recall any movement at any of our seminaries where the young theologs are being called to and shown examples of authentic self-denial. Trustees don’t publish CEO salaries because folks in the pews might look askance at how high they are. Try us on that trustees.
We will fight a cultural war over any aspect of aberrant sexuality but over no level of conspicuous consumption, greed, or wealth display.
Can’t say that this makes a lot of sense to me.
I’m a greedy capitalist pig myself. I was a greedy capitalist piglet a half-century ago when I sold programs (and got free admission) for the last big game like this. Made five bucks or so that day, I recall.
And, if someone offered a ticket to tomorrow’s game, I’d take it.