I recently listened to a sermon by C. J. Mahaney entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Sport.” If you know Mahaney at all, you already know that it was fantastic; if not, you need to find it on the Sovereign Grace website (http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/Product/O9245-00-41/Don_t_Waste_Your_Sports_DVD.aspx) or buy the corresponding book on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Waste-Your-Sports-Mahaney/dp/1433522470) – you won’t regret it. Most of this post is not original to me, but the content is so fantastic that I can’t help but use this platform to spread the truth.
In coaching, I hear many colleagues talk about players that are selfish, arrogant, or bad teammates. Pat Riley wrote a book talking about the destruction of a team being finalized when that team acquires “The Disease of Me.” It doesn’t take long listening to popular sportscasters to hear phrases like ‘they lack chemistry’, ‘that guy is just a cancer’, or my personal favorite, ‘he’s just not a good locker room guy.’ The problem with all of these examples is that they lack clarity. How exactly do you define a cancerous teammate, a selfish player, or bad locker room guy? Mahaney addresses this issue with a terrifically concise list of attributes of a humble athlete. The humble athlete …
- Pursues and welcomes the correction and critique of both coaches and teammates
- Recognizes his/her limitations
- Understands that scoring is a process that involves others
- Encourages his teammates
- Is gracious in defeat and modest in victory
- Is respectful of coaches and referees, even when their decisions appear to be poor
- Transfers the glory of all athletic accomplishment to God, refusing to allow others to assign the glory to himself
Most often I see #1 violated when people assume that if they can take correction, they are a leader and are humble. But read it again. The humble athlete doesn’t merely take correction, he/she pursues and desires it.
#3 is particularly evident in soccer, as the goal-scoring player routinely sprints as fast as possible away from his teammates after scoring. To be sure, basketball possesses no immunity here, and anyone following Puig-Mania in Los Angeles has seen it spill over into baseball.
Finally, I really appreciate how Mahaney closes with #7. It’s not just that humble players look to transfer glory to God when they are publicly and/or privately lauded, it’s that they actually refuse to accept that glory when others attempt to assign it to the athlete. This is not easy, and certainly is a rarity, but nonetheless an excellent point.
Share this with your team, whether you are a player or a coach. But more importantly, consider the team you are on, and evaluate yourself. “The unexamined life is not worth living.”