Everybody’s practicing… pads are on and guys of all sizes are on the gridiron to play the game. The sports pages are filled with player updates, injury reports, predictions of all sorts and stories of zealous fans. I love football. Playing in high school was one of the thrills of that season in my life. When I was a high school teacher I coached for 3 years and learned much more about the game.
Our culture has become sports crazed. There’s nothing wrong with sports, but there is a problem when we move through passion and into obsession. My favorite memories of both playing and coaching were the character development lessons I learned and later taught. As a coach, I was more into what the kids were learning about life than what they were learning about football.
Consequently, many would have not given me high marks as a coach. I’m sure I wouldn’t make it as a head coach or even a very good assistant. I love the ‘teachable moment’; I’m less concerned about a player understanding technique for defeating a double team than I am helping a young man learn to recognize when he’s being double-teamed in life or when he’s being set up for a trap.
If our coaching (of any game) stops with application to the game only, we’re missing great opportunities to teach life. Young folks can learn much from participation in sports, but with a talented and motivated guide, they can learn much more about life and even everlasting life. So, here’s my challenge. If you’re a coach, look for ways to teach spiritual truth through the game. Regardless of whether the game is football, volleyball, field hockey or soccer. The medium of sport provides a bounty of teaching opportunities. Paul used lots of analogies about competing to teach spiritual truth in his letters. Let’s follow his example.