Despite the best efforts of our leaders, our teachers, our coaches, our clergy and our conscience, we continue to lose the battle against disrespect for authority and mean-spirited behavior. Translation: We are what we are!
I’m going to take a few words to summarize what I observed during this weekend’s girls’ state tournament in Columbus, with an apology that we all, as a culture, owe to one another as a result of our mutual embarrassment.
Despite the best efforts of the Ohio High School Athletic Association to promote good sportsmanship among players, character and class by those who observe the games in person, and respect for the game and to those who might show up just to watch…we’re losing the battle for behavior and dignity when it matters the most. When it comes down to watching how the outcome of a simple basketball game is determined…we cannot help but lose our minds!
We know better, but we simply cannot help ourselves.
An official’s call, and people came out of their seats , faces red, wrath on full display, and heart monitors maxing out…had they had one.
An elbow thrown Saturday…it happens in basketball, it always has…and an adult walks down to court level to direct his anger at that player when she runs to within his earshot at the other end.
And while it apparently didn’t happen at the tournament site, the tampering with of this website over the weekend to spread effusive and bigoted comments because, 1) apparently some have nothing better to do, or 2) they’re just that far off the beaten path of civilized behavior. Your guess is as good as mine.
And yet, we make banners, we record public service announcements, we grandstand over the issue of sporting behavior, and still…every year….I’m reminded of the New Testament verse that reads, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they come to me. (John 10:27)” As to the rest there’s another verse that reads, “I have called, and you refused. I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded. (Proverbs 1:24)
There’s two things that strike me concerning the behavior of people.
One, it really hasn’t changed much over 2,016 years. Proverbs is pretty old stuff.
And two, given that change doesn’t come easy, the OHSAA and others imploring the populace to treat each other kindly and with respect are wasting their time and their breath. Those public service messages prior to every state tournament basketball game, where the student athletes appear on the scoreboard and ask everyone to behave themselves? They would do just as well to consult the Gideons, or maybe put a Bible under the seat. Because the fact is, the chosen sheep already know, and they act accordingly.
The others can be attributed, perhaps, to John 5:40, which says, “You profess to receive and believe, yet you will not change.”
This is a cultural fight that’s discouraging to observe. To the best of our efforts for generations upon generations we’ve attempted to teach the “Golden Rule”. And yet, we continue to spew inflammatory remarks, we continue to berate authority, and we continue too often to confuse winning as a “right” and not a “privilege”. Given the opportunity, those who refuse to hear the message continue to use perceived injustice as an excuse for insults and disrespect.
The irony of this is…according to all that drink of this fountain of competitive fellowship we’re doing this for the betterment of the kids. That is, we use sports and competition to teach solid, valuable life lessons. So say Jerry Lucas, Al Oliver, and Clark Kellogg on the same message boards…the same public service announcements. The adults nod and say, “Amen”, and then the game starts and twice this year I observed adults escorted from the gym because they refused to hear, or pay regard, to the message.
My wife read this and said, “This is kinda’ preachy. You could probably say this in a better way.”
Well, better minds than mine have obviously been at work on it for almost fifty years, and here we are…shouting insults and hacking websites. So, I go back to the original. Lesson learned, or lesson lost? Obviously, the sheep have not changed.
And neither has the rule book (Hebrews 13:8)!