Scheduling Around the Football Season

Youth Specialties
September 3rd, 2009

Confession time: In 10 years of working in church youth ministry, the only date/times I was ever successful at blacking out from the youth group schedule were Notre Dame football games. Working on my birthday? Working the day after my son was born? Working on Christmas? Missing Easter dinner for 5 years in a row?

No problem! But hell would need to freeze over for me to miss Notre Dame vs. USC. Baseball may be America’s past time, but NFL and NCAA football is America’s passion. I grew up about a mile from Notre Dame stadium where people started tailgating on Friday and the mall was a ghost town on Saturday afternoon. As I became an adult and lived in Illinois, California, and Michigan I’ve learned that this tpye of passion is not just for college towns… it’s all over. There are rabid football fans everywhere and trying to fight against them is unwise. It’s better to schedule with them than against them. I thought maybe I was alone in this, until this morning when I asked our Twitter followers, “Show of hands. Does your favorite NCAA or NFL football teams game schedule effect your youth group schedule?” Here are some responses:

  1. jonzoch@YS_Scoop yes!! I live 3 hrs from Austin & usually give up half of the UT home games due to events…thankfully I love both. Hook’em Horns!
  2. thesnuffy@YS_Scoop Yes, it does. GO BLUE!!!
  3. michael_parks@YS_Scoop OU-Texas game is during OK fall break. Trying to plan camp-out where we get reception.
  4. johnpyle @YS_Scoop yes for sure lets go VOLS i make sure big events only fall on away game weekends however i normally don’t do much on sat’s.
  5. krseberg@YS_Scoop Yes. Never had a New Year’s party because I like to go “bowling” with the Hawkeyes.
  6. DanHaugh@YS_Scoop absolutely. no activities on Saturdays of big Irish football games and I schedule Superbowl, NCAA, and World series parties
  7. rhausler@YS_Scoop I have to admit to checking the USC football schedule when planning events. I also checked to see if USC was in town for #nywc.
  8. javagiraffe@ys_scoop i could defend it other ways, but moving youth from sunday to wednesday may have to do with seeing more denver broncos games. 🙂
  9. CharlieLP@YS_Scoop No way. That’s what a DVR is for!
  10. vgcollins@YS_Scoop it might during basketball season! GO HEELS!
  11. janelc1228@YS_Scoop totally!! I even put the USC schedule on the calendar and there are NO events during games 🙂
  12. jwrite@YS_Scoop it does me pause, but I have season tickets. What am I supposed to do?
  13. dj413@YS_Scoop NFL does seem to affect attendance at events and services both Youth and Adults in ND

3 Ideas for Football Crazed Youth Workers and Groups

1. It’s better to protect that time and enjoy your game than be distracted.

The few times I had an event/retreat during a big game I was totally distracted in thinking about it. Those ended up being really bad ministry times as my students could tell I wasn’t really there. If you’re a nut like me, it’s probably best to just try not to schedule anything during that time. We all have our quirks and faults. Make up for it by being totally there at other times.

2. Turn your fan time into group fan time.

I’m not a huge NFL fan but I’ve managed to find myself in NFL towns. (San Diego, Detroit, and Chicago) I learned that a great way to get deal with this potential problem is to embrace it as unprogrammed/agenda free hang out time. Find a students home where would be appropriate to host a drop-in football watching gig. For the cost of a couple of pizzas you get a lot of quality time to enjoy the game together… and go deep relationally during commercials or blow-outs. Over the years I’ve found that parents are very open to sharing their living room with for this!

3. Don’t fight it.

I’ve heard people turn this into a spiritual battle. It just isn’t worth it. If you live in an NFL city and your youth group night is Sunday… just realize that some kids are going to miss your meeting to watch a football game. Likewise, if you’re in a college town you’ll need to adapt to the football schedule. It’s the same thing with high school sports. In the long run, it’s going to be better to sort out ways to embrace this than to fight it.

What are other ideas for embracing and intertwining the football schedule into your youth ministry?

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.