No such thing as football freedom

Published 4:31 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I spent my weekend away from football.

Highlights from the high school and college ranks as well as the violence of the National Football League would have to wait because Friday night, Saturday and Sunday I was isolated in a monastery.

I wish I were kidding.

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My future bride and I made the trip to the Sisters of the Visitation monastery as part of a regimen of tasks that must be completed before we can walk down the Catholic aisle.

Marriage is very important in the Catholic faith and believers shouldn’t enter into it lightly. So, before a priest can bless a marriage an engaged couple must take certain steps required by the church. This “Catholic Engaged Encounter” is one of them.

The event featured Hillary and I and 18 to 19 other couples from around the country, listening to talks, given by older, married couples.

Topics for these talks included various scenarios involving marriage and how to handle each one in a successful way. The couples would give personal accounts of tough times, arguments and times of joy, then we were required to discuss with one another these same issues.

I learned a lot of what to expect in my future marriage and I would’ve had a nice time, but there was one problem, the monastery didn’t have a television. Watching football, even during a two-hour break Saturday, was out of the question.

Sure, I could check scores out on my phone during the break, but technology was kind of off limits during our work sessions.

So yes, I missed the “miracle on the plains.” And I missed that embarrassment of a game the Crimson Tide played against those dirty old egg-sucking dogs. (All in all, it was a bad weekend to be a Bulldog, although I haven’t checked the Fresno State score.)

I did manage to get updates, though. Another future groom had the ESPN Gamecast on his phone and he gave everyone the play-by-play during Georgia’s final attempts at a touchdown. The instructors even held a video presentation until all the Auburn fans could breathe a sigh of relief.

I guess even locked in a monastery, our culture can’t escape college football. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I love football of all kinds, even the weird one over in other countries. You know, the one where the name makes more sense. Anyway, I’m impressed by the hold college football has on everyone down here.

Partial credit for that goes to the strength of the college football teams in Alabama. Not just the Tide, but the Tigers, the Trojans, the Blazers (sometimes) and even the Jaguars.

The major programs keep trading national titles and in about a week and a half will trade shots to see who will win the Southeastern Conference’s West Division.

Love Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn, or hate them, but they each have had pivotal roles in putting this state on the college football map in recent years. They’ve help grow the popularity of this sport throughout the state.

I won’t say anymore on that upcoming contest as I’ll be writing about the Iron Bowl next week.

One thing a lot of couples learned this weekend is that football is inescapable, so just get used to it.

How do you know this place is full of football junkies? When folks are cheering in a monastery.


Dale Liesch is a news reporter at The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at