Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Christian Sportsmanship

Anyone who wants to read the longer version of my opinion on Covenant School's 100-0 victory over Dallas Academy can pop on over to our family blog. Here's an excerpt:
    I would have expected nothing less from the team that won. In fact, if I had been their coach, I probably would have wondered why they couldn't win by 200 points. ...

    ... The reason I'm having such a hard time sympathizing with Dallas Academy is that coach [Jeremy] Civello contradicted himself when he complained that the Covenant girls could have had just as much fun winning by 30. If the whole point is to have the girls playing "with all their hearts," who cares what the final score was, be it 100-0 or 200-0?

    The fact is that he was embarrassed. And who can blame him? This kind of a loss -- not to mention the fact that Dallas Academy hasn't won a game in four years -- is hard to live down.

    Still, we are left with the impression that Covenant coach Micah Grimes and his players are mean-spirited brutes because the team was still playing hard until the final buzzer. But isn't that exactly what we would expect of any team? Look at it from their perspective. Coach Grimes spends the entire season trying to get his players to give 100%. Do we expect him to go against everything he's been teaching them and suddenly try to get them not to play their best simply because the opposing team stinks?
Covenant, however, decided to apologize and forfeit their win, calling it "shameful and an embarrassment." They said it didn't "reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition." Coach Grimes didn't agree with the school's formal apology, said as much, and was promptly fired.

Needless to say, the majority of opinions I have read online overwhelmingly condemn Covenant's coach and team. Why is that? What lesson in Christian sportsmanship could have been learned by encouraging those talented girls to not play their best?

I haven't read a single report that the Covenant players were sore winners, that they were taunting or insulting the losing team. They simply went out on the court and gave it their all, which is exactly what was expected of them.

The chief end of man -- and the chief end of all that we do -- is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Is that somehow not possible in a 100-0 basketball game? Where would you draw the line between Christ-like behavior and poor sportsmanship? 80-0? 50-0? 20-0? Is there not anything parents, spectators, coaches, and players on both teams can learn from such a lopsided victory?

If there was any Christ-like compassion to be exhibited, perhaps it should have come from the Dallas Academy coach who at halftime saw his team down 59-0. Or perhaps it should have come from the ones responsible for scheduling the game in the first place. Maybe it should have come from those who originally thought that it was a good idea to have a competing girls' basketball team in a high school with only 20 students.


Anonymous said...

Amen and amen!

Stan said...

Oh, thank you! I was following the whole thing in the news and thinking what you were saying and wondering why it seemed like I was the only one thinking it. Nice to know I'm not.

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