I have never been much of a sports fan–except for a time in high school when I rooted for the Athens (Ala.) Golden Eagles, our town’s home team (my private Athens Bible School did not particpate in intramural sports.) Thinking back more than half a century to those mighty Golden Eagles, an Old Testament verse comes to mind–the one that says “There were giants in the earth in those days; mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” High school giants, I’m tellling you, with names like Mott Dollar, brothers Terry and Jerry Daniels, and Baxter Booth. Just saying the names conjures waves of delightful sensory memories–snappy, cool Fall nights and a big old moon, concrete outdoor stadium; cigar smoke wafting on the breeze; the warmth of hot chocolate from the concession stand; the sounds of fans, audible on our front porch a full mile away, as was the loudspeaker of the announcer calling the game, each sentence piercing through the night, its echo gradually evaporating on the Autumn breeze.
Last night brought back some of those feelings, even absent all the literal details, as Sara Faye and I watched the Baylor-Texas Tech game on television. It also generated some questions, for this novice at least. After such a great beginning for the players with red and white helmets, why were the fans for the other team not so discouraged as to pack up their stuff and head for home? How could anyone be so agile as that fellow in the green jersey, dodging every defensive player that popped up to threaten his progress as he zig-zagged down the field? Real football fans can laugh at these inquiries if they wish, but the queries make sense to me. (I know–I should stick to writing gracEmails and teaching Bible.)
Speaking of which, the game that played out last night in Arlington was filled with “points” for a teacher of morals and of “rules” for achieving success in life in general. Two examples immediately come to mind. #1 – BEGIN WELL, BUT REMEMBER THAT YOU ALSO HAVE TO FINISH. The Red Raiders proved themselves able technicians with an early 14-0 lead, but the game still ended 63-34 with the Bears spitting out red and white. Whether Calvinist or free-will, competent theologians agree that God guards his people while his people persevere. #2 – SUCCESS REQUIRES BOTH INDIVIDUAL EFFORT AND TEAM COOPERATION. Baylor QB Bryce Petty fired off the passes that got the credit in the write-ups this morning, but every successful pass he threw involved a whole passel of players who opened a clearing, not to mention another team player who caught the ball at the other end. Paul urges personal effort and group responsibility in Galatians 6:1-10. Each person must carry his own load, he writes, but we also must carry the overloads of one another. So thanks, NCAA, for the entertainment! Who says football is a colossal waste of time?