Sports can be awful for spiritual development. But they can be beneficial (and fun!) if you enjoy them in perspective. They have the potential of being especially sanctifying for a young man who lives and dies with his team, for God uses sports to humble and teach. Anyone who has played golf knows this.
The video highlights below are of two different football games between Nebraska and Texas. The first is from 1996. Sorry that there are actually no Nebraska highlights! Nebraska lost that game, and I about lost my religion. James Brown (no, not that James Brown) broke my heart on 4th and inches, with his infamous “roll left” for a 61-yard gain.
You see, I was spoiled. Nebraska had lost a total of two games from the beginning of the ’93 season to that fateful December day in ’96. Two. I didn’t know what losing was when it came to being a Husker football fan. This game against Texas rocked my 12 year-old world. But thankfully, God used this game to teach me a valuable lesson. I distinctly remember my dad telling me something I will never forget. He looked me in my tear-stained eyes and said, “James, you can never put your hope in people. If you do, they will always let you down.”
The second video is from 1998. We (Nebraska) lost that one, too. Ricky Williams and Major Applewhite chewed up my Husker heart. Then they spit it out and stomped on it. I don’t remember how I reacted initially, but what I do remember was that it was Halloween. After the game, I dressed up, grabbed my plastic bag and headed out to divide and conquer the neighborhood. I came back with record-breaking candy poundage. I’d like to think my dad’s wise words were somewhere in the back of my head that night, helping me put life in perspective (because Halloween candy is so much more important than football).
This week Nebraska plays Texas again. I will enjoy watching the game, and I hope the Huskers come out on top. But if they don’t, my weekend won’t be ruined. Sports are fun, but they aren’t life. Jesus is life, and when you finally realize that, things like 4th and inches won’t break your heart. Dad, thanks for teaching me that.
1996, Texas vs. Nebraska, Big 12 Championship Game, St. Louis, Missouri (click here to watch highlights)
1998, Texas vs. Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska