A Privilege to Congregate

02.23.20 | by Keith Russell

A Privilege to Congregate

    BERRY TRAMEL IS A SPORTSWRITER for the Daily Oklahoman (DOK). The DOK is Oklahoma’s largest statewide newspaper and can only be read now online. I started reading Berry’s articles before I left Oklahoma over 23 years ago. I continue to read his articles on the DOK website. I send him an email occasionally and he usually emails me back.

    BERRY HAS BEEN WRITING RECENTLY about the attendance for the Oklahoma University sporting events. Last fall he called out the Sooners fans for leaving a home football game early against Iowa State. The fans left when the Sooners were comfortably ahead 42-21, but the Sooners barely hung on to win 42-41! Last week he wrote an article about the lack of attendance at a men’s home basketball game against Iowa State on a Wednesday night. (Maybe they just don’t like Iowa State!)

    THE POINT OF BERRY’S ARTICLES is that it is hard to get people to congregate. He wrote, “It’s getting more and more difficult to get people into public arenas, be it sports, movies, or concerts. The addiction to smartphones, the increasing lack of attentiveness, the improved experience for people watching games at home, they have made fans less committed to going to the ballpark or staying for the duration if they do.”

    AFTER READING TWO ARTICLES ABOUT DECLINING ATTENDANCE, I had to write Berry! This is, in part, what I wrote to him, “If I did not know better, I would think you were talking about church attendance instead of football and basketball attendance. Even small churches live-stream their services, making it easy to stay home and watch church services in your pajamas while sipping on a cup of coffee. However, I have always preferred to go to a game or a church service in person. You cannot replicate on a TV or a cell phone the excitement or emotion of being there in person. In short, I guess I am saying, ‘amen’ to your article.” I added a P.S., “Perhaps if people were to leave the state for 23 years, they would better understand what a privilege it is to be there in person.”

    FOLKS, IT IS A PRIVILEGE TO CONGREGATE with the people of God on Sunday morning! We don’t “have to go to church”, we “get to go to church.” That’s not a cliché. That’s the truth. If the day ever comes when you can’t be here in person, you will better understand what a privilege it is.

    P.S. Berry liked my response well enough that he printed it in the DOK. He wrote at the bottom of my response, “Right on.” I think that’s Sportswriter language for “Amen!”