No Place for Hatred!



15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. I John 3:15 NLT

This Scripture hit me right between the eyes today as we discussed it in Bible study. “Hate” is such an ugly, debilitating emotion. Yet I recalled just a few days before expressing hateful feelings myself about a certain basketball team, a certain coach, and certain players. I do not know, nor have I met any of these people.

Jesus said –

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone,  you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.  Matthew 5:21-22

Dedicated fans (dare I say “rabid”?) are not the exclusive territory of any one team. When Phil was attending Asbury Theological Seminary soon after we married, I cleaned house for an 80-year-old lady who had court side seats in Rupp Arena. Mrs. Moore was a widow and had two season tickets that her husband, a doctor and Kentucky graduate, had obtained during the heyday of Adolf Rupp and the Kentucky Wildcats. She went to those games, often taking a niece or a friend. She told me once their children would inherit the right to those season tickets. Mrs. Moore was a calm, quintessential Southern lady – UNTIL HER WILDCATS were playing!

Similar stories can be shared about most teams with loyal followings. My older brother reminded me when we were reminiscing about the Cubs’ World Series win, that my father, although a Cubs fan, was most consistently for the underdog. (that has been the definition of a Cubs’ fan, hasn’t it?) Even his favorite team did not receive his backing if a little known school or losing program threatened a win. He always thought it was a thrill to see “David beat Goliath”.

There has been an increase in the past few years of fans who take pride, not so much in their team and how it is playing, but in how ugly, disgusting, and downright vulgar their cheering section is. Expletives are commonplace. For these fans, I use the term loosely, it is no longer about the game, but about their extreme behavior in the stands.

Our family has always loved sports and competition. Everyone has played on multiple teams except for myself – who has never been on a team. (Someone has to watch!)

Yet I am concerned about the shift in our culture from cheering for your team to win – to degrading the opposing team, win or lose. I hear comments from fans of all ages that talk about opposing teams, coaches, and players in such degrading terms that hatred is the result.

I have talked this way myself.

I am busted.

As in any situation, when Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, I must confess it, accept forgiveness, and CHANGE MY BEHAVIOR.

I need to do this to honor the Lord.

I need to do this to be a positive example to my grandchildren.

I look forward to watching some basketball in the coming days. I want to focus on cheering for the teams in my bracket.

There is no place for hatred!

It’s Only a Game

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…or is it?

While watching the NCAA tournament last evening, I was on a roller coaster of emotions along with the rest of the fans watching.

If you were not on that roller coaster, you either did not care about the results of the game or were not a fan of either team.

At the end, one team is elated with victory…

the other is crushed with defeat.

That is just the way it is. One team wins. One team loses. If there was no disappointment in defeat, then the victory would not be as sweet because it just really wouldn’t matter who won.

It is only a game, after all.

Or is it?

The outcome does matter a WHOLE LOT to the

  • team
  • coaches
  • parents
  • family members
  •  school
  • real fans
  • alumni

Watching the seniors on the losing team is heartbreaking. I couldn’t help but feel for the family members and loved ones who care about those young men. This was the NCAA tournament after all.

It is the big time – a once-in-a-life-time experience.

I remember being in Columbus, Ohio in 2002 for the final four of the NCAA Division III Women’s soccer tournament. Our daughter, Abigail was playing for Wheaton College and their team was facing Amherst College for the semi-final game. The score was tied at 1-1 when time ran out. After 2 scoreless over time periods, the game went to penalty kicks.

What an awful way to end a tournament game, a season, and for the seniors, their career!!

Wheaton lost in penalty kicks.

I have abhorred penalty kicks ever since!

The team was heartbroken. They had played an amazing season to get to that point – the final four – but that was no consolation at that moment.

Neither was the fact that it was only a game.

It was not brain surgery, no lives were lost, but it was NOT the outcome that the team had worked so hard for all season. Only time and distance would assuage their pain.

Do our children and grandchildren feel any less pain when they lose their hard-fought athletic contests?

As adults we realize there is a vast difference between a youth league tournament and the NCAA tournament. Yet to a child, their game is a big as it gets.

How can we help children keep their games in perspective and also help them handle the disappointment of defeat?

The following are some suggestions that I have gleaned from 35 years of watching children and now grandchildren participate in athletic events –

  • remember it is a game, it should be fun
  • do not try to relive your athletic past (or lack thereof ) through your child
  • encourage them with positive comments
  • cheer for their teammates as well as your child
  • when your child loses,  and it WILL happen, let them grieve appropriately
  • moderate tears are appropriate, wailing not so much

Try to avoid the following if at all possible –

  • yelling instructions to your child while a game is in progress (if they do hear you, what you yell may be different than the coach’s instructions)
  • yelling at the coach
  • yelling at your child’s team members
  • yelling at the officials
  • ok, avoid ALL yelling
  • criticizing the coach, especially in front of your child
  • demanding more playing time or a certain position for your child
  • make excuses or blame others for the lack of ability your child has

Children will take their cues from the adults in their lives, especially their parents, on how to respond in situations following a game. If we act with positive sportsmanship and grace following defeats or victories, our children will learn to do the same.

Colossians 3:23-25 E(ESV)

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Whatever our children are doing, whether it is helping at home, playing with siblings, playing with friends, learning at school, whatever they do,

if it is only playing a game,

we can help them understand that they honor and serve God by doing their best…

win or lose.