From about September 1st through the first weekend in February, an amazing thing happens in towns all across America. In coffee shops, and in homes, in Sunday School rooms, and in restaurants, men (and a handful of women) who otherwise find it difficult to express emotion, will pour forth their souls concerning the simple, almost silly events, of high school, college, and professional football. If their team loses, it can be horrendous, but if their team wins – oh, how their faces can dance. But what is interesting, is not that people get excited about football, but that they can so enjoy reliving the game. You can take two men, both of whom witnessed the game, and one will say to another, “Oh, could you believe the catch that so-and-so made?” The other, almost interrupting, will reply, “That was amazing wasn’t it. He was all the way stretched out for that one.” The first will contribute, “I didn’t think he had a chance – great catch – great catch.” “Sure was.”
We may laugh, certainly my wife has laughed at me, but reliving a football game is part of what completes a football game. It really isn’t over when the clock stops, it must be rehashed, reexamined, and the good plays must be praised. It is almost mandatory, isn’t it – that good things must be praised? If you go to a good restaurant, you almost feel compelled to tell others about it. If you hear a good joke, you almost feel compelled to share it. Praise, is simply a part of life. Even non-religious people are full of praise. Whether about football, fine art, or fine scenery, people like to praise things.
Thinking on this very same truth, C.S. Lewis noted, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you are for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with (the perfect hearer died a year ago)” (Reflections on the Psalms, chapter 9) Praise completes our enjoyment. What a wonderful way to put it.