Last night, the prayer on my lips right before I drifted off to sleep, was “Lord, turn my heart totally to you”. You see I was angry at a news story in which several black African-American high school students stopped in the middle of a football game to complain to the referee that some white player had called him the “N” word. They expected play to stop, the player to be ejected and the team penalized. On the news afterwards, several of their parents were enraged also.
I grew up in a time when in playing a highly physical sport, you used any means to get “into” your opponent’s head to throw them off their game. It still goes on today. Ask any kid what kind of things they are called during the heat of the battle and you’ll find comments questioning their parent’s and sibling’s sexual lives, lineage, behavior, orientation, and the players physical appearance, attributes, intelligence, etc… That has long been ingrained into their heads and it’s all okay, but the “N” word is where the line is crossed? What about the other slang and degrading words being slung around? Weren’t they being a bit too thin-skinned in only one direction? I would be judging if I assumed that the head games were being played by both teams.
I coached CYC sports for A LOT of years and NEVER advocated that type of mind games. But I coached a lot of boys and girls to ignore it and concentrate on the ballgame at hand. When will we as a society, largely Jude’s-Christian (perhaps in name only) get to that place where we actually bring justice, righteousness and peace into EVERY area of our lives? I don’t play sports anymore, but I watch some. Do I sit and talk like that to my tv? No…although a expletive may escape my lips at disappointment or frustration, it’s aimed at the game, NOT the player personally! Do parents and coaches think that teaching our children the old ways will get them to the Major Leagues and THEN you can teach them self discipline? Hahahahaha! Hardly.
St Paul brags about his Jewish background, lineage, upbringing and observance of the law. (PHIL 3:3–8) He then brags of persecuting the Church, because of his following the Law so closely! But the Jewish religion is a faith of peace, love and obedience… not violence! (Boy who does this remind us of… Christianity, Islam, etc.) But Paul woke up to realize that “in righteousness based on the law I was blameless. But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Following Christ calls me to more than the norms of society’s acceptable practices. The parents were right to be upset and demand change. All referees should be directed to give unsportsmanlike-like penalties to teams and players who play this way! But it shouldn’t stop at the “N” word or whatever fancy word we decide to fixate on today. Change should demand that we stop derogatory and inflammatory speech and name calling PERIOD! Let our play on the field, our performance in the workplace, our excellence on the road driving, etc., do our talking for us! LET OUR LOVE IN CHRIST SPEAK THROUGH OUR ACTION ALWAYS LOUDER THAN JUST OUR LIPS! But let our lips do it too, in encouragement, praise and congratulations. Building others up, admonishing where necessary and encouraging always works best, whether it’s with a child, an employee, a driver or a supervisor/manager. That’s what Christ calls us to, LOVE, which is way further than society still does or ever will. Only in this way can we ever effect real progress and change. Peace and All Good, my friends!