The Amish and Football

amish football
Amish boys play football near Georgetown, Pennsylvania

Reader Michelle V recently asked: do Amish play football?

Well, here’s a bit of evidence that they do, courtesy of Rick Harrison, who took the above photo at the 2009 mud sale at Georgetown in Lancaster County.

While football is not as popular as softball or volleyball, the ole pigskin does get tossed around, especially by Amish boys.

Interest in the sport varies.  Some don’t care much for the game itself.  Some Amish don’t approve of sports in general, or at least not adult involvement in them.  I think reader Kerry might have a point when he writes that “it is generally considered too violent by the Amish, although I know many who love to watch and you will sometimes see the younger fellows hanging around the field fence on Friday nights watching.”

For that matter, you do find fans of the professional game.  The extreme popularity of the NFL (described by sports author Mark Yost as “the most successful sports league on the planet”) reaches into Amish society as well.

While spending a summer at Arthur, Illinois, I learned that local Amish tend to back either the Chicago Bears or St. Louis Rams.  In his book Growing Up Amish: The Teenage Years, Richard Stevick describes the room of a 19-year-old Amish youth.  Walls covered with photos of Pittsburgh Steelers players and numerous Steelers hats and a jacket revealed the young man’s loyalties.  “Such a room would be extremely rare in a small or conservative settlement or affiliation, however,” Stevick notes.  A couple of years ago, an ESPN reporter wrote a story on Amish Philadelphia Eagles fans in Lancaster County, which he didn’t have much trouble finding, at least among the youth.

No telling how many will be following this weekend’s NFL playoff games.

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    1. Greg Stutzman

      What a great photo! I would be very interested to know from Ohio readers if any football is being played currently in Holmes County. Not knowing much about the PA Amish community, it does seem that the Lancaster County folk are a bit more liberal and somewhat more assimilated into “English” culture.

    2. I think my 13 year old niece broke her wrist playing football in school this past Autumn. She is Amish and goes to an Amish school in Holmes County Ohio. She is also a Tomboy.

    3. Richard

      good morning folks….. a fresh topic i see, i was sort of getting used to, and liking the last one. whenever i might pass by a amish school, the kids always seem to be playing some sort of sports.amish children really love baseball, atleast in lancaster/lebanon countys.anyone from florida, i was wondering how the weather was. also, any pinecraft readers on here?…………… ill be back later folks…….. Richard. lebanon,pa

    4. Marilyn in New York

      Good Morning Richard,
      I don’t know how the weather is in pinecraft, but whatever it is – it has to be better than ours. LOL
      Marilyn in New York

    5. Stephen B.


      How do Amish keep up on their NFL teams if most don’t watch TV or listen to the radio? Is it enough for them to simply read the stories in the print newspapers the next day?

      I can’t imagine that Amish get to the stadiums all that much themselves.

    6. How Amish follow sports

      Hi Stephen, good question–newspapers; youth might catch games on the radio or at a public place with TV. Business owners who travel a lot may hear games/results on the radio, as would Amish riding in vehicles for other purposes.

      The definition of “fan” is relative here; of course you wouldn’t see the same fan behavior (tailgate parties, fantasy football), but an Amish person may admit to “pulling” for a favorite team. And of course many Amish would take little or no interest. But there are those that do.

    7. Richard you are right, baseball/softball is big. Some Amish youth even play in leagues. That has been controversial.

    8. Richard

      hey ERIK….. since we are talking about the amish and sports, and think about this for a min, have you seen many amish children who were over-weight?.i didnt think so, so maybe they are on to something. alot of american children spend alot of time watching tv, playing video games, and the computer. so im sure this is a big reason for this. i think i may have answered my own question Erik, lol. either im getting alittle smarter, or maybe i just need to get out more,lol… Richard, lebanon,pa

    9. Richard

      id like to invite evryone who might be interested in going to my blog, i know ive talked about it here a few times, and now after 9 or so months i have a topic. its still a work in progress, and im trying hard at making it a good blog now. i love this site and enjoy it alot, i look foward coming to it everyday. and im still learning on how to do a good blog. my first topic is” since the amish use alternative medicine, are they short changing themselfs using it?. please drop by and leave a comment, and i hope everyone drops by the site when they can.……. richard,from lebanons amish community

    10. Richard

      thank you Erik for being the first to ever comment on my blog. i was just working on it alittle, so ive just changed the heading to a cleaner-look.its been so long since i logged into it, i forgot my pass word,lol.if alice and marilyn ever get on, i hope they could maybe leave a comment. my blog is lady Rv driving friendly i always say,lol. thanks again Erik for the comment and stopping by. ill be hanging around here for awhile so see who may drop by…… Richard

    11. Richard

      wow………. 3 post in a row, maybe i should go for quality instead of quantity………lol………. Richard, lebanon,pa

    12. Marilyn in New York

      Hello Richard,
      I tried to post on there and I must have done something wrong because it doesn’t show on mine. I am for alternative medicine. I am allergic to so much modern medicine and I am searching in alternative medicine. My Mom came from the hills of Ketucky where she learned home medicine. My Mom was born over 100 years ago when you didn’t go to the doctors like we do-in fact-there weren’t many like today. I never paid a bit of attention to her medicines and now I wish I had. I wish I knew someone Amish or Mennonite would could give me advice and help.
      Marilyn in New York

    13. Richard

      hi marilyn….. ive just added another topic, im sorry that you had trouble posting. maybe you could try again, id love to read your thoughts. richard

    14. Richard

      marilyn……. just click where it says comments, then post your comments. im having fun with this,lol…… richard

    15. Morinne

      Hi Rick & Erik, Thank you for sharing the picture of the Amish Mud Sale football game and for reminding me that the Mud Sales are coming up soon. I am wondering if Georgetown is considered the Gordonville Mud Sale, the Bart Mud Sale or a different one. Also, would you have some tips on places to stay during the Mud Sale season (away from the tourist attractions).
      Thank you!

    16. Michelle V

      Thank You Erick for the Football Post ! As a teacher, I often wonder how certain “English” mores creep into the Amish culture. I will be rooting for the JETS since my dad is from New York !

      The weather in the Tampa/St.Pete/Sarasota area of FL is … well … simply.. Gorgeous! We had a couple days of rain last week but now its clear and cool.

      I’ve never have experienced SNOW and I’m over 30 !

      Enjoy your Saturday Night and Be Safe,
      Michelle V

    17. Richard

      hi michelle….. Erik has some pretty good post on his site. and thank you for the weather report. im orig from florida myself as i just moved to penn. ill have something about pinecraft in sarasota on my own blog at some point. and i hope you enjoy Eriks site…… Richard, from the amish community of lebanon,pa

    18. Marilyn in New York

      Hi Michelle,
      I lived in Florida from about 1975 until 2001 and then came home full time again. I wanted snow for Christmas 1975. I didn’t get my wish, but in January, 1976 we had a light snow. I have pictures of it somewhere. I took a picture of the neighbors car. The funny part is that you could tell who had originaly come from the north and who hadn’t at work. All of us that had come from the north showed up-those that were born in the south couldn’t come to work because they couldn’t drive in the snow. The snow all melted by noon-then they showed up. My boss was an original yankee, and sat in his office and laughed over that they couldn’t drive in the snow.
      Marilyn in New York

    19. Well it looks like they are having fun!

    20. Goodness, I’m glad someone likes the sport 😉 🙂 🙂 I’m not much of a sports fan in general..although I would watch it with friends..while I was knitting 🙂 🙂 🙂 Greetings from Oregon, Heather 🙂 :

      p.s. I’m glad they’re enjoying it. The photo is a good one 😉

    21. Marilyn in New York

      Hello Richard,
      I still can’t get a comment on your Amishstorys. I pushed comment and filled it in. Then Edit Profile comes up-open ID URL: I completed that and pushed that. Then URL contains illegal characters comes up. I don’t know what I am doing wrong.
      Marilyn in New York

    22. Richard

      im not either marilyn. Erik left a comment on a post. ill go to the site now and see if i can put in a post myself, i wont sign-in and ill see whats going on……….. rich

    23. Alice Aber

      Hey everyone, first chance I have had to sit down for 30 seconds and I do mean 30 seconds. Rusty is huffing and puffing for his walk. But I will be back after that.

      Richard, I will go check out your blog once I get done walking Rusty. A mother’s work is never done, LOL.

      Blessings, Alice

    24. Michelle V

      Hi Marilyn,
      I barely remember the Great Snow of 76 since I was a little girl then. But my brothers do, they said school was cancelled and one remembers making a snowball.
      Richard , I tried your site as well to no avail. As I am interested in the “POW WOW” ways as well.
      Is it weird the I like the “Dark Side” of the Amish as much as the “Light” of their cultue?
      Anyone else feel the same??? If I wrote a book it would be ’bout all the “stuff” they’re not or should’nt do ??? Oh well that’s just(oneside)me!
      Take Care,
      Michelle V

    25. Richard

      hey alice and marilyn……long time no see alice. in getting back to marilyns problem posting on my site. i went into the settings and made it alittle easier for anyone who would like to post a comment. after you type in your comments, then on the button below the post there is a comment as button, click on that and if you dont have a google account, i have it where anyone can sign-in as “anonymous”. i also have set it up that you wont have to put in a code. i might get more spam doing it this way, but ill try and make it as easy as i can for folks to post a comment. with-out comments, there will be no reason really to have a blog, as much as i might love the sound of my own voice,lol. im kidding folks, im pretty hard on myself sometimes so my head is not in the clouds.i also have my e-mail address on the top so if anyone would like me to post a particular topic, or just to tell me im just no good,lol, please let me know…….. thanks folks…….Richard…………

    26. Marilyn in New York

      Hi Michelle,
      Now that you mention snowball reminds me that one of my nieces made one and had her parents but it in the freezer. She had never seen snow before. LOL Her parents were both teachers and couldn’t understand how they could closed the schools for such little snow. My brother was also a Councilman for City of New Port Richey and they were talking about calling on other states to send in snow plows. My brother kept telling them it will melt. Good thing they didn’t because it melted by noon.

      I’m not into POW WOW-just teas, spices, soups, etc. So I can’t help you there. I have read about it though-a long time ago. I read a book about it-if I think of the title I will let you know.
      Marilyn in New York

    27. Marilyn in New York

      Hi Alice,
      Glad your back. I have to walk Rickie pretty soon. He won’t stay out long-doesn’t like the cold.

      Richard, I will try it again. You are doing great work. Being a reader – what might be nice is to list Amish books like Erik’s on Amish Business’ and Karen’s Amish in New York State, etc. I like an Amish novel, but I am really interested in real information about the Amish. Just my suggestion.
      Marilyn in New York

    28. Alice Aber

      Hi Richard and Marilyn,

      I am back from walking Rusty.

      I went to your blog Richard and left a comment under alternative medicines. I also have a blog at blogspot so it was easy. I do have a question for you Richard, how do you get the domain name to then go to blogspot? I love all the pictures!!

      You are doing some fine work Richard. Keep it up!!

      Hey Morinne,, I have not forgotten your info from Arthur, I just have not been able to get back down there yet with all the weather we have been having. But as soon as I do I will let you know.

      Blessings, Alice

    29. Marilyn in New York

      Hi Richard, I got my comment on alternative medicines on.

      Hi Alice, I see on Richard’s that you use alternative medicines with herbs and alike. I am allergic to so many medicines. Sometimes the doctor has given me a prescription and I will land in the hospital. My Mom use to use alternative medicine she learned from her Mom. Of course I never paid any attention and now she is gone. Could you give me some advice? Like what herbs to grow? What teas to use for what? What alternative medicines are for what. I believe in doctors and my former doctor suggested I turned to alternative medicine after he landed me in the hospital twice with modern medicine prescriptions. He retired and my new doctor knows I use alternative medicines. Any help would be appreciated.
      Marilyn in New York

    30. Richard

      i have to go, but thank you guys for commenting on the blog. i bought a domain name alice, so for now anyway i own the name i wanted amishstories, but to buy that domain name, i had to pay 1100 dollars. so i had to fudge the storys part of the web page……. ill work on it more on sun. good night everyone, and thanks for checking out my site, i hope to see everyone on there at some point……… richard

    31. Marilyn in New York

      Thank you so much, Richard. Have a good night. I will keep checking your site.
      Marilyn in New York

    32. Michelle V

      Hi Marilyn – I would never practice “Pow Wow” I just like reading about it and stories of Amish folklore and those that were considered Rebels. I also enjoy learning about how self sufficient and green they truly are.
      I would love to add to an Amish book list on this site or Richard’s as I collect books on various cultures besides the Amish. How ’bout it E ?
      I have a rare book titled “Straw in the Wind” that assess the Amish in a stereotypical manner – a really “different” kind of read. Anyway you could say … I’m a Jr.Anthropologist/Sociologist 🙂
      Drs. Kraybill and Nolt are my Heroes and of course Erick 🙂
      Good Night and Thanks for the FUN !
      Michelle V

    33. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Richard; Well, as a start, it looks just fine. I like the element that does a quick slideshow of different scenic and people views of the Amish world.

      Erik, one of my Amish centric memories is being in PA and seeing an Amish man take off his traditional hat and pull on a retro logo Phillies baseball hat. I can’t read lips, but I bet his older friend joked at him saying something like “I don’t know, it somehow doesn’t look plain enough.”

    34. Marilyn in New York

      Good Night, Michelle, HAve a great evening.

    35. Michelle V

      Oh My I’m so Sorry I misspelled your name ERIK.

      I just came back on to say….

      J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS !!!

    36. Marcus Yoder

      Hey Richard have you ever been to the shady maple resturant in East Earl. Marcus Yoder London,Ohio

    37. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      PS, does anyone have knowledge about “Life of a plain lady” She had a lovely blog up and running, very pretty and family oriented, then she shut out uninvited readers. Any word on Katie Troyer’s blogging efforts either?

    38. Richard

      hi marcus…… its funny that you say that. i had passed the shady maple resturant when i was in lancaster last week. ive been hearing about that one for years now, so ill need to check that one out. it does not take any arm twisting to get me to go out to eat,lol, and there really is so many good place in this area to eat of my favorite places now marcus is a restaurant called dutch-way. its a market and restaurant, just like the shady maple is, and like yoders market.i love a place with good food, and fair prices, and dutch -way fits that bill for me. hows the weather in ohio, and i dont have a map in front of me at the moment, but are you in or near holmes county?………. good night folks, and thanks to those that checked my blog out, ill be back here on sunday…….. Richard from the amish community of lebanon,pa

    39. David Cannella

      A lot of people try to explote the Amish for their on illgotten gain. The Amish are seperated from the World and if they are into things of the world i guess that means they are not so Amish. The glitter and glamor of Hollywood is destoying our culture with it’s new age phylosophy. The music that gloryfies illicit sex, drugs, alcohol, and Satan Worship. Is making a great impact on our youth, with 1 out of 4 std’s amoung our teens. Suicide is the number 2 killer among teens. OUR TEENS ARE RAISED AS PAGANS IN A SOCIETY THAT IS KILLING, STEALING, AND DESTROYING OUR YOUTH. Who will answer my friend, YOU! What would any Amish or any religion want with a society like that! Somebody put up road blocks to protect them! I for one will! Visit my site and punch in David Cannella. You will get the best in Ministry that can be gotten today. With sermons like A LOVE THAT WILL LAST FOREVER! RAISING GIRLS TO GREATNESS! AND MANY MORE! IT IS FOR THE FAMILY!! ;FOR THE CHILDRENS SAKE DO IT!

    40. Marilyn in New York

      In Richard’s Amish Storys I read about the Amish man that killed his wife in 1993 was shunned and not allowed to see his children. When his children came to see him they were shunned. After hanging himself he is be burried in the Amish cematary. I can not understand why the Amish did not forgive him and let him live among them. I know their fear of him, but with certain circumstances-like maybe his family supervising him or seeing he takes his medicine or something that he wasn’t let back into the church. Maybe I am missing something. They forgave the man that killed those children, of course, he had killed himself. But I can’t understand, in their forgiveness, how they couldn’t forgive the man that killed his wife.
      Marilyn in New York

    41. Lodging--where to stay away from tourists in Lancaster County

      Hi Morinne, on the mud sale, we would have to double check with Rick to be 100% sure (maybe he’s out here somewhere?), but I believe this is the Bart Township sale.

      As for where to stay, away from the tourists…I stay with Amish friends when I am in Lancaster so am not too up on the lodging situation. I would say avoid anything near Bird in Hand, Strasburg, Intercourse–basically the heart of the settlement. I don’t know how much lodging there is in the south part of the county, but that is generally less-trafficked. Hope that maybe helps.

    42. Marcus Yoder

      Richard I have a cousin that is in charge of operations at shady maple. I was only there once.Talk about a buffet.London,Ohio is about 12 miles west of Columbus. It is just south of Plain City, which used to have a large Amish community. Today there are only about 6 Amish left. I have not seen a buggy since probably the late 70s.We have approx. 5 inchs of snow. I clear the sidewalk’s at church which has a school,pre school,daycare,plus several other entrance’s. I also salt the parking lot if needed. Marcus Yoder London,Ohio P.S. Richard I saw you put your town and state, and did it also.

    43. Football purer than soccer

      Michelle V, I enjoy football myself, never played it, but do watch it. I actually played soccer for 10 years–and I know there is a huge long-running debate between soccer and football fans…but I enjoy watching both.

      Recently I think I would give the edge to NFL though–soccer really disappoints me in that there is a lot of what I would consider cheating–diving, faking fouls, etc. I watched the World Cup this summer and just got sick of it all. Football seems a lot “purer” in this sense.

      I don’t really have an NFL team, but this season I cheered for Denver, because I have a good friend who is a Broncos fan. Also, I’ve enjoyed watching QB Tim Tebow.

      So in tonight’s Jets-Steelers game, I will basically be looking forward to a good contest…but hope you end up happy at the end of the day!

      (BTW no worries on mispelling my name, I get all variations (Eric Western is my favorite)…and as for an Amish book list, there is a list of recommended resources in the sidebar, maybe that’s a start? Am flattered by your kind words on that point btw 🙂 )

    44. Forgiving Amish schizophrenic Ed Gingerich

      Marilyn I think you are referring to the Ed Gingerich story, that is really a sad story. I did read that he died recently.

      As far as I know he was a paranoid schizophrenic and apparently had further troubles with the law including being sent back to jail again since originally being released for his wife’s murder. He abducted his 15-year old daughter a few years ago but she was found a few days afterwards.

      I can’t comment on whether he was forgiven by his community or not, though I do remember reading about how Amish in his community were very frightened of him. It sounded like he really wasn’t rehabilitated or healed (to whatever degree that is possible in his case) or at least not to the point where they felt comfortable with him.

      I think Amish generally show a high capacity for forgiveness as it is a key part of their faith. So I wonder if their treatment wasn’t more due to a concern over the safety of members of their own community. Should he have been free, away from psychiatric care? I guess only his doctors would know.

      I guess we also don’t know what other things he may have done that weren’t reported, and to what degree he was even following Ordnung, etc, which would also probably factor into this as well.

      To be honest, if I felt someone was a physical threat to me, my family, or my community, I don’t know how comfortable I would feel with him being around, near children, etc. We had the recent shooting in Arizona by someone who was mentally ill as another example. I do believe Amish tried to help him, and he was at one point at a center in Michigan for Amish with psychiatric troubles. I just don’t think we know the whole story here.

      Richard glad you are getting the blog rolling and hope everyone can comment. The technical side is not my strong point, I run into challenges on this blog sometimes too.

    45. Marcus, Richard–the one time I visited Shady Maple planning to eat there, I walked right back out. I heard the food is really good, but the crowds were enormous. Also, I was with two Amish friends, who I don’t think felt comfortable either. We found a quieter spot down the road 🙂

      It is geared towards tourists, but I do know that some Amish enjoy it. Another friend gets together there for family birthdays.

    46. Katie Troyer's blog address

      Shom I liked your Phillies baseball cap story. Was he wearing a beard as well?

      As for the life as a plain lady blog, I am not familiar with it. Katie Troyer’s blog was apparently hacked somehow and she lost it. But she has a new one up I believe–I thought the new address was but now I see there seems to be a blog set up but no posts on there…maybe Katie if you are reading this you can point us in the right direction?

      1. Mary Miller

        Katie Troyer’s Blog
        I realize this is an old post, but if someone is still interested in Katie Troyer’s blog, it is at:

    47. Marilyn in New York

      Hi Eric,
      In reading the article, they do side more with Ed than they do the Amish people. Like you say, there are probably a lot of things that weren’t put in the article that we don’t know know about. I don’t feel he should have been left free to live with the people without some supervision or care. Maybe he is forgiven, but was not allowed to live with them for safety reasons.
      Marilyn in New York

    48. Marilyn there was a book written on this case; I believe he’s described as the only Amish person convicted of homicide, though I don’t know how accurate that is. Violent crime is very rare amongst Amish. And it looks like Ed Gingerich’s violence was due to his mental illness. All that anyone can do now is pray for him and the people involved.

    49. Marilyn in New York

      Hi Erik,
      You are right there. I will have to look the book up.

      Seeing people are talking about food (well restaurants)-has anyone heard of goats milk fudge. I remember when we went to Florida during my Easter Vacation my parents use to stop at the Amish roadside stands on the way back and one of the items they use to sell was goats milk fudge. They had a hard time getting me to eat it, but once I did I loved it. Do some still make? Or is it a thing of the past? Or is my mind cracking up? LOL

    50. Marcus Yoder

      Erik I can believe it being to busy. The time i was there was when my uncle passed away. It was my cousin’s dad. Everyone from out of town went to shady maple for breakfast. My cousin arranged a banquet room for us, so we didn’t have to wait.
      I would love to visit all the places in Pa. my ancestor’s lived. Someone did get me a picture of my gg grandfather’s grave in somerset county. Marcus Yoder London,Ohio