i love sports. in my former life, i was actually an athlete of sorts. a baseball player as a kid. a football player in high school and junior college. a college volleyball and baseball coach.
along the way, i’ve played a bunch of stuff with varying degrees of passion, but relatively little talent. a lot of golf…before it got too expensive. sand volleyball. racquetball. years of beer league and church league softball…the grave-yard for wannabe baseball players. these days, bowling is the sport of choice. i was never much into bull riding, tho.
that was all said to establish my cred for what i’m going to say.
my heart is wounded this morning for a couple of athletes.
the outcomes of both of yesterday’s nfl conference championship games were profoundly influenced by the epic failures of two young men. their blunders cost their teammates thousands of dollars, but more importantly, their chance for the game’s greatest prize and the dream of every professional football player…to be a superbowl champion.
in the first game, the baltimore ravens had positioned themselves for a game-tying, chip-shot, field goal to send the game into overtime…a game where they had the momentum and grit to win. but their kicker missed the short field goal attempt badly. game over. season over. dream gone. finito.
mamas…don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. or field goal kickers.
the second game failure was even worse. first, the san francisco 49er punt returner inexplicably let a ball hit his knee that was recovered by the giants…that led to an important fourth quarter touchdown. but that didn’t come close to the size of his second gaffe.
in overtime, he fumbled a punt return deep in his own territory that led to an easy giant field goal to win the game. not only did this 23-year old kid crush the hearts of his teammates and 49er fans alike, there is no telling what the long-term damage to his own psyche will be for years to come.
* sports illustrated reported this morning that he’s been getting death wishes via twitter…
you may say that it’s just a game or that the hundreds of thousands of dollars these athletic failures receive should nurse their wounds pretty well. you’re probably right, but you are still a heartless cynic.
it’s made me think bigger picture, tho.
what do you do with your failures? even if they’re not “epic”. how do you rebound from mistakes that cost you more than just money? what do you do?
what do you do with moral or relationship failure? when your spouse or children or friends see mistakes you make or collapses in your personal life? how do you handle the loss of reputation or influence? how do you pick yourself up when it feels like all is lost and you cannot go on?
one of the things that bonds us together is imperfection. we are all screw-ups. for some it happens on national television in front of millions. for others, it’s in front of a small group of friends or associates. for all of us, it happens in front of the eyes of a benevolent and gracious god.
the god who made us and knows us inside and out. the god who set moral and spiritual bars so unattainable that the only course of action for his created to take would be one of surrender. a course of faith that would take us to the doorstep of grace and forgiveness.
reality? mamas can’t stop their babies from growing up to be place kickers or punt returners or just rank and file misfits who fall short of the glory of god in myriads of ways.
that’s why god made a way.