In attending my first game at Northwestern University’s Ryan Field Oct. 9, I learned that Vienna Beef sponsors the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hail Mary promotion at the school’s home football games. Cheerleaders launch T-shirts, in which there are coupons for free hot dogs, into the crowd. Bad enough the worst sports cliché ever will not die, but to have an in-stadium promotion using it? I wouldn’t like it even if the campus Newman Center, St. Athanasius, were sponsoring it. The good news, besides the fact that the Boilermakers beat the Wildcats, is that college football games aren’t played on Fridays during Lent.

Sports as religion: Tony Dungy’s “Quiet Strength” was the first book written by a coach that I thought every athlete should read. Add to that required reading list Drew Brees’ “Coming Back Stronger.” It’s a must read for athletes, coaches and staffs in every high school and college/university athletic department. Some of Brees’ thoughts:
“Pain is a gift I sure didn’t want, but I believe God used it for a purpose in my life.”
“My desire is that people will see me as a man of God who is genuinely trying to live out my faith with my wife, my son, my team, and the community I live and serve in.”
“Faith is a gift from God, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s not enough to have it. You’ve got to live it out, even when times are tough.”

German Christmas music to my ears: James Brown instructed Santa Claus to go straight to the ghetto, but a Catholic aid association in Germany doesn’t want Santa coming to their country at all. Bonifatiuswerk of German Catholics is calling for “Santa Claus-free zones.” While Catholics in the U.S., as a group, haven’t embraced the “Keep Christ in Christmas” idea, Bonifatiuswerk sees Santa as “an invention of the advertising industry designed to boost sales” and as “a representative of consumer society” who has little to do with the historical figure of St Nicholas. Today, St. Nicholas; tomorrow, Jesus.