Sunday, September 07, 2008

How exactly to celebrate...

It is pretty obvious that I love sports and really wish they were eternal. I guess what I mean is that in the long run, it really doesn't matter who who won and who lost and what player got this hit or scored that touchdown. But, there are lessons you can learn and insights you can gain and analogies you can draw. So as to justify or satisfy my love for sports and love for eternity and my desire to see them unified as much as possible, I hereby give you another lesson...

I remember when I was playing for the Huskies (yep, I was walk-on player a long, long time ago, back when were good, with the likes of Mark Brunell and Napoloen Kaufman) and the new rule was brought to our league about how celebrating after a touchdown would be penalized. I still remember how the coach described how you had to celebrate with your teammates (it didn't really affect me... I wasn't going to get in, let alone worry about celebrating) and not showboat it by yourself (think soccer). So, team celebrating was not only encouraged but mandated. It was a good rule that served the game, keeping gloating showboaters celebrating with the other players that blocked and passed and helped to make the touchdown happen.

Now, fast forward many years and though my playing days are over, this rule is still in place. Like I said, it is a good rule that serves the game well. But, rules, all rules should exist to serve the game, and not vice versa. Someone doesn't make a bunch of rules and then try to fit a game into it. You make the game and then create rules so that their are boundaries and fairness and right and wrong so that players are able to play the game freely and fully. Last week, when Jake Locker was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for throwing the ball over his shoulder and then celebrating with the team was an example of putting rules above the game. Jake Locker was quoted after hearing there was a flag on the field, "That was stupid. Who got the penalty?" He didn't even know he did it. I doubt any player, fan of either team or coach of either team even noticed it. The rule was put in place to keep the spirit of showboating to a limit, not just so they could add another rule to the game. As Ty Willingham, the coach of the Huskies said, "There are rules written for them to use discretion, and in this case they didn't do that. Proper judgment was not used. That was not an act of a young man taunting, not an unsportsmanlike act at all, and therefore it should have been viewed in its totality and not just isolated as to the letter of the law."

So, the Huskies lost a heartbreaker when the a short kick was moved back and it was eventually blocked. And like I said, when I get to Heaven, I won't really care who won or how it happend... But to make it eternal, it reminded me of an interaction Jesus had with the Pharisees. The Pharisees loved talking about the rules and making more rules to keep rules. They were all about rules and laws (just not obeying them). For example, the Sabbath. This was a rule God made for man to help them rest and to set aside time to worship God. It was a rule made for man by God to help man. But the Pharisees started adding more rules to the Sabbath about how far you could walk and not walk and what you could do and couldn't do. They got really mad at Jesus a bunch of times because he would heal people and eat food on the Sabbath. They said he was breaking the laws of Sabbath. But, Jesus understood the difference between the Spirit of the law and the letter of the law. He understand that man weren't made for rules but that the rules were put in place to help man. Jesus said in Mark 2:27 - "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." It is easy as Christians to get so focused on the rules and the doing of this or that that we forget about the point of the rules is to help Christians love God and love people with all our heart, soul and mind and strength.

So, my plea to the referees who watch these kids play their hearts out, don't forget that the rules still serve the game and do not let the the letter of the law determine the outcome of the game. A hold is still a hold, a pass interference is still a pass interference; that is a different thing all together. What we are talking about is why this rule was put in place just 15 little years ago to keep glory hounds giving glory to the team that helped get him there. And may we realize why the law was given, to show us that we are sinful and to give us boundaries, not so that we can create more and more rules, and not because the rules makes us religious. We must see the rules in the spirit that it was given so that we could have opportunities to and the way how to love God and other people.

So, there you have it... Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Were I to post any thoughts, I could not claim them for my own. So instead, I'll simply say that this is EXACTLY what Romans 5-7 discusses. Actually, 5-7 are the chapters that deal with it DIRECTLY, but 1-4 lead up really well and help bring in the background to Paul's point in those 3 chapters. Great book. =]