I have long been drawn to the sport of football both as a young man and as a coach because of the violence inherent in the sport. As a player or coach, if you are not appreciative of the physical nature of the sport the result can be injury. We coach our players to play with controlled aggression because we know that timidity is only rewarded with pain. The game demands a heightened focus because your mistakes could get you or your teammate hurt. It is through this "war without shooting" that chivalry should be taught.
The English word chivalry originated in medieval times and pertained to the code of conduct required for knights. Chivalry is usually thought of as courteous behavior, especially men’s courtesy toward women. But, with cultural norms shifting, it can be difficult to know whether chivalry is still expected or whether it has passed us by. And, while God created men and women equal in value, spirit, and intelligence, He also placed within the male heart a desire to guard and protect the women in his care. God created men and women differently in function and perspective so that we would complement, not compete with one another.
As men and women of God, we are called to be courteous to each other (Ephesians 5:21) God also calls men to protect women by referring to women as the "weaker vessel" (First Peter 3:7). Let's define what God means by weaker. He is not saying women are inferior as Peter follows up this verse by defining the term as "delicate without being frail". God is pointing out women and men were designed to complement one another and men were called upon to honor and protect women.
Our culture has spent a significant amount of time, energy and resources to convince men not to be men and women not to be women. In the end, study after study has proven what every parent who has a son and a daughter already knows: give Johnny the baby and he will use it as a gun and give Sally the gun and she will coddle it. God made us beautifully different and, as such, he gave men the role to protect women.
Chivalry is a choice men should make. A godly man treats women with respect because he recognizes they are created in the image of God and therefore inherently worthy of courtesy. Chivalry also is a way for a man to submit to women as he is being asked to humble himself in her presence. He is recognizing his need for her and her place in God's perfect plan. Men are called to be chivalrous regardless of whether the woman in question is accommodating or receptive to the chivalrous act.
So, how does a violent sport teach chivalry? It teaches men how to control their natural aggression while giving them knowledge of why it needs to be controlled. We instruct our players to play the game up to a line but to not cross it. As men, this line is something one can only understand when they have had to flirt with it or have crossed over it. Young men are full of hormones which, if unchecked, will push them past the line of appropriate behavior and into the zone of impoliteness, rudeness and fear. Through football, we encourage young men to overcome fear, to be respectful of their opponents and to appreciate and even embrace the brutality in the sport.
As George Orwell opined, "serious sport" brings out violence and football is by this definition a serious sport. It is also a great tool by which to harness these God given emotions and use them to instruct young men on how to be chivalrous.