Monday, January 26, 2009


I'll admit it. When I go to a sporting event, I seldom like to see a blowout. I like to see contests that are challenging and call for both teams to give it their all. I like to see great athleticism and gutsy calls by coaches. But in the end, make no mistake, I like to see a winner. Now we should know that when players/teams agree to go on/in to the field/arena, they understand they could be the loser. Most of them are not actually contemplating losing but rather winning and in that contemplation, they are planning on someone being a loser, albeit they are planning that it will be the other person/team. So in the context of sports, there will be winners and there will be losers and by virtue of one "playing" the game, they understand that axiom from the outset.

Recently, two Texas high school teams made the headlines. The winning team posted 100 points to the losers zero. That score has turned up a pretty big row though. Some feel that the coach of the winning team went too far as he let his team continue to "run up" the score. And then to garner your sympathy for the losers, as if the score is not enough, we are informed that the losing girls team actually has very few athletes at its school. In other words, the school is not a very big "farm" from which to build a successful girls basketball team. All of this is meant to stir us up against the winning coach/team/school. And I want to shout a big, STOP THE BUS and back up here. If you want a handicap, play golf or take up bowling. But basketball does not recognize handicaps and award points accordingly. As far as I understand it, neither do football, baseball, NASCAR, hockey, tennis, ping pong...I think you get the picture.

Competition is meant to distinguish a winner and by virtue of having a winner, it means that someone DID NOT win. I like the phrase, 2nd place is really just the first loser. If you do not like 2nd place either do not enter the contest OR get better at what you do.

Perhaps there should be a mercy rule in sports that once a particular boundary/margin is crossed, the team/player that is behind, LOSES the event. Then the score or margin of victory would be smaller than 100-0. But in the end, whether a race is lost by 1 second or 1 hour, the race is still lost. Whether a game is lost by 1 point or 1 touchdown, the game is still lost. Whether a game is lost by 1 run with the bases loaded or 10 runs, the game is still lost.

In the particular event that I am referring to, the winning coach has taken a lot of heat. But why has no one chided the losing coach for not throwing in the towel after the first half? Why did he submit his team to such a superior team knowing the inevitable outcome? Why didn't the losing coach forfeit after the first half and then propose a member switch for the second half to make the event more challenging though it would not go down in the books? The weight of this event is being placed upon the shoulders of the winning coach rather than the losing coach. And that should not be so. BOTH coaches know that when they step into the arena of play, they could lose and they could lose big.

It seems to me we have bought into this sappy feel good mantra that no one can succeed and do well unless everyone succeeds and does well. With that thought, perhaps I need to challenge Tiger Woods to a game of golf. I'll need about a70 handicap to compete but in the end, I am not Tiger's quality of game. Should he back off his game because the others cannot compete? I say not! Should a student who excels in math be held back because the rest of his class just does not get it?

One more point before I bring my verbiage to a close. Some interject that just because this was a game between two "christian" schools, the winning coach should have exercised better judgment. Some are saying that Jesus would not have run the score up. And to those who would offer such, tell me, what would the score have been then if Jesus was the winning coach? And what about that "Golden Rule"? In the area of sports, I believe it would be this, "Did you give it your all?" How do you want the others to treat you? You should want them to give it their best and when you show up to play, you need to do the same. In this game, both teams gave it their best. However, one team's best was not enough to win.

And what can we learn from this? Sometimes, our best is not enough. And in one particular area, our best will never accomplish a win. Your best is not enough to merit salvation. Having giving it your all is not enough to merit your salvation. Jesus is not going to say, "Well I see you were up against some tall odds, I'll lower the bar for you". Jesus is not going to consider that you came from a tumultuous background and then give you an easy entrance. Instead, if you try to enter by any way other than faith in Jesus and His finished work, you'll hear the words, "Depart from me, I never knew you". Jesus was/is God's best. Jesus finished what you and I could not do. Jesus won where you and I, left to our own devices, will lose.

My final comments will be thus. If the winning coach desired to humiliate the other team, then he failed miserably. The losing coach wisely counseled his team and they did not give up but rather kept trying. But really, was the winning coach desiring to humiliate the winning team or was he desiring that his team gave it their all just as the losing coach was doing for his own team? Coach Micah says he was playing the game as it was meant to be played. I agree with Coach Micah.

You can read the AP story HERE.

No comments: