True Champion

∗Originally written in the Summer of 2015

Anyone who knows me knows I like to win. It’s interesting by nature I am not aggressive or a fighter. I am usually a big chicken; I am pretty much scared of everything. When it comes to sports though, some kind of monster comes out. I yell, I stomp my feet, I boo. I do all the things I normally wouldn’t do if I weren’t watching sports. I don’t curse because I gave that up a long time ago, but I do say things I shouldn’t.

Yesterday was a bad day, my daughter, Olivia, plays on a Showcase Basketball team. They had a slow start to the season with losing 15+ games straight. But with hard work, new coach, couple new players, they begin to gel and work together, and so the team has been on a 9 game winning streak. They still have a lot to learn and lots of room for improvement but are well on their way. So the talk and hype of the “new” team is up and so is the attention. We teach it’s not about the wins but it’s playing your best game personally and as a team. But sometimes you just want a win.

When you go to these tournaments, there are lots of games going on at one time and there is time you spend watching other games and I see lots of talent. But you also see craziness, at times maybe 1-2 games out of 100, you see teams get technical fouls due to parent or player behavior. You see parents and players get thrown out, you see fights, and you definitely hear lots of trash talk.

Before one of my daughter’s game yesterday, there was an incident where a player slammed another player on the ground and the two begin to scuffle when all of a sudden, there is a parent and coach scuffling and a player was hit by an adult. This made me so upset, to watch this unfold was ridiculous. The game was stopped, people were ejected. The injustice of it all. Craziness!

Then during my daughter’s game, there was this girl, who played dirty. She would act innocent as she would curse at our team or pinch them. She would elbow and push aggressively. Sometimes I feel like the refs let some games get out of control and this is what leads to behaviors. But some would say this is basketball. It’s hard to watch when it happens to your child or even the other players because they too become your children, these teams become your family. But the girls pushed through and won. Then they found out that they had to play the same team again. And Olivia asked me what she should do about this player who continued to play dirty. Old school me, said give it back to her, make her regret what she is doing. But then again….is this the type of player I want my daughter to be…a foul mouth girl who intentionally hurts others? But she must defend herself, right? Olivia looked at me and said I can’t. I will not hurt her. And I knew she would not play the next game; which made me angry at the little bully. And it is exactly what happened; Olivia started the game but was quickly pulled from the game because she wouldn’t go head to head with this girl. The girl pushed and bullied her team to victory and our girls gave it to them.

After the game, coach and parents had a lot to say to them. Yes, they should have won, yes they should have not let this one girl and her five team mates beat them. Yes, they played scared and let this girl get in their head. Yes, our team was better.

But on the car ride home, my daughter said these things, which made me think about my actions and the whole day.

She said, “Mom, you know the little girl who got punched in the face by a parent, well, I went out to her after the game and told her I was sorry that it happened to her, and she cried and hugged me and said thank you. It is wrong, mom, no kid should have that happen to her.” I didn’t think about the girls condition, I was too busy wanting justice.

“Mom, I don’t want to be that mean girl, I want to play the game and win; not because I cheat and play dirty, but because I am good enough.” said Olivia. I wanted a win and not thinking about what I was teaching my daughter in that moment.

I want my daughter to achieve greatness. I want so much for her. But most of all, I want her to know and love and share Jesus. When Jesus walked this earth, he could have easily zapped every one of their wrong doing; he could have judged all sin instantly. Jesus wants justice, he wants a fair game. But instead he ministered and showed loved to those who endure.

John 3:17 says, “God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

I begin to think, how if I showed more compassion, more grace, if I showed love instead of anger; how differently yesterday would have turned out. Our team, our girls were hurt, they were frustrated by the girl’s behavior, and they are just girls. Yes, if they would have went out there and played their best game as an individual and a team, we would have been victorious. There were many lessons to be learned from yesterday, and the important one was that our girls did not stoop to the other teams’ level. They didn’t play dirty or cheat; they played with integrity and humility.

We all are going to have bad days; we are going to get beat. I believe you have to learn to lose well just as much as we have to learn to win well. We have an awesome group of girls who can play basketball. Who can win any game because they are good enough. They are good enough whether they win or lose. They are good enough just because. They are good enough because they are children of God.

I must live and teach what I want produced in the lives of those I care about. I must condone and encourage the behavior I am seeking for my child to produce, at the same time; I hope my children and others remember that I have a tendency to do wrong and that we all need God’s strength and forgiveness in order to do right.

Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

Dear Lord, help me to show compassion and grace more. Help me to see others hurt over the injustices of this world. I am not here to judge the world but to love those who are hurt by it. Thank you Lord for forgiveness and for showing me Your way is always better. May the girls grow in you and in basketball. May they grow to be beautiful women of God with the endurance to bear all things. In Jesus Name Amen



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