During and after Sunday’s third round (because of weather delays) of the 2015 British Open, I noticed two examples of redeemed sports – as it seemed the players operated from a “striving with” vs. “striving against” mentality.
The first one came as Jordan Spieth described his third round playing with Sergio Garcia. Both players played well that round, Spieth shooting 66 and Garcia 68. Tom Rinaldi, the interviewer, observes that they birdied several of the same holes (they actually each birdied 5 holes that day – #1,5,7,10,15) and seemed to feed off each other’s energy. Spieth replies about their friendship and the fun of playing together. He goes on to describe how they offered encouraging remarks and even openly rooted for each other to make putts during the round.
Not convinced? Turn to the recently completed NBA finals. Think about the sixth game. Imagine one of the Warriors on the free-throw line late in the game with an important free throw. Next a Cavalier walks up to him before he gets the ball and says something. What do you think he would say? Something like Spieth and Garcia said to each other? I doubt it, unless you don’t believe what what NBAers say is usually said in those moments.
The second incident was a little more obscure. I never heard any actual accounts that would support it. Therefore, I acknowledge I am using some imagination in this one. However, I don’t think it is much of a stretch to think it happened. See if you agree.
The setting – Louis Oosthuizen, South African and former British Open Champion, is playing the third round with red-hot Irish amateur, Paul Dunne. A birdie on 15 ties Dunne for the lead in the tournament. As they walk off the green or the next tee (can’t remember which), Oosthuizen turns to Dunne, says something with a big smile and pats him on the shoulder.
If you watched it, it seems easy to imagine him saying something like, “Keep it up,” or “Great play,” or “You’re doing fantastic.” Something older “brotherish” to the younger amateur. Something meant to affirm and embolden this young man in what he was doing, coming at a time when Louie was right in the same mix, trying to win his second British Open.
“Striving with.” Fellow competitors encouraging each other along while in the “heat” of competition. Quite different. Quite moving.
Some might attribute this to the nature of the game of golf. They might say, “Golf is played more individually against the course rather than against another player like in tennis. It should happen here.”
Certainly the nature of golf may help to foster this attitude of mutual respect but I think it was from something more. Much more.
I think it came from a different perspective on competition. Rather than these players seeing their opponents as their enemies to conquer as is so often espoused in worldly competition, it seems so evident they saw them as their competitors to appreciate.
Appreciate? Certainly. Redeemed competition recognizes that without those opponents there would be no competition. No opponents, no game. Then where would the joy of competition be?
“Striving with.” God’s original design in competition.
Not just for golf. This perspective needs to be the design for all sports if we ever hope to see redeemed what is so broken – all our sports.
Credit: Bob Schindler – The Executive Director of our sister ministry, Church Sports Outreach
Submitted by Ken Cross.