In sports, there are some unwritten sportsmanship rules, especially when there is a lopsided score.  For example, in football, a team with a big lead stops throwing and simply runs the ball; in baseball, the team with the big lead stops stealing bases with a huge lead; and in basketball, teams stop pressing and trying to throw long passes for easy lay ups when they have a huge lead in the second half.  It is commonly seen as pretty classless when teams fail to adhere to these rules.

Recently, I saw this happen at a high school varsity basketball game. Maybe it is just my pet peeve, but here is what happened.

Bridge City was playing the top ten team, the Silsbee Tigers. This season the Tigers have an excellent team and came into the game undefeated. By the second half, the game had already been decided with Silsbee holding a 40 point lead. But nothing changed! Instead of pulling back and playing a bit more conservative and just finishing the game, the Tigers continued with their full court press that had helped gain their lead. Their defensive intensity never wavered and they continued to look for long passes to boost the score further. They simply wanted to pour it on and they did.  I was proud that coach Knight and Bridge City never quit even though the final score on the books, Silsbee 90, Bridge City 22!

Is that what it has come to? Didn’t anyone learn “the Jurassic Park” lesson of… just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should? This was the kind of thing that gives sports a bad name. Even one of the Silsbee players turned and cursed the visiting crowd (which of course the referees did not hear) after they booed his aggressive play as he hammered a player trying to steal the ball in spite of that huge lead. No, Silsbee didn’t need to quit or give up easy baskets, but they should have pulled back and allowed time to run and play half-court. I blame the Silsbee coaches for such a horrible exhibition and example of sportsmanship. What were they thinking? Were they trying to reach 100?

Sorry, but they are in charge of the players and they could have turned it down a notch. I am sure the good folks in Silsbee want to be represented better than that. We all want to be proud of our student athletes, not just for winning, but winning or losing with class.

But, that is our society from time to time. It seems that some coaches don’t care or get some sick thrill out of winning is such a manner. But it is not the first nor will it be the last time coaches act so foolishly. Last year it was national news when coaches at a kid’s football league game in the Houston area got into a fist fight. We are appalled when nearly a decade ago Indiana Pacer players went into the stands in Detroit to fight fans. So here it is… another poor example of what NOT to do. 

From a spiritual standpoint, it is easy to find numerous passages in the Bible about respecting others and having mercy. The Gospels and almost all the other books tell us to respect one another and treat others with kindness. I believe most people do act respectful and kind to others. I see it all the time in courteous driving habits, opening doors for others, good manners, and even in a friendly “hello.” Unfortunately we do see certain poor examples like this one.

Maybe it is just me, but I was taught years ago that athletics aren’t just about winning, but doing our best and enjoying the sport. Sports are a gift from God and bring joy to many. It should be treated as such, play hard, but be respectful to your opponent.

I wonder if Jesus played games as a boy? I bet He did. How would He have acted? A thought to ponder!

Until next time, Blessings!