Category Archives: Illustrations

Mike Matheny’s Letter to Parents

Matt MathenyMike Matheny is the current manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Like most managers, he is a former player.  In between his playing days and his coaching career though he coached Little League.  Yes, you read that right.  He was a bit overqualified but he had a son that played.  He was reluctant to coach the team but eventually relented.  Once he became the coach, he wrote this letter to parents.  As you can see, it’s very serious but he addresses what the role of a parent should be during games.  Below are some excerpts (the words in bold are my emphasis):

I always said that the only team that I would coach would be a team of orphans, and now here we are. The reason for me saying this is that I have found the biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents. I think that it is best to nip this in the bud right off the bat. I think the concept that I am asking all of you to grab is that this experience is ALL about the boys. If there is anything about it that includes you, we need to make a change of plans. My main goals are as follows:

(1) to teach these young men how to play the game of baseball the right way,

(2) to be a positive impact on them as young men, and

(3) do all of this with class.

We may not win every game, but we will be the classiest coaches, players, and parents in every game we play. The boys are going to play with a respect for their teammates, opposition, and the umpires no matter what.

With that being said, I need to let you know where I stand. I have no hidden agenda. I have no ulterior motive other than what I said about my goals. I also need all of you to know that my priorities in life will most likely be a part of how I coach, and the expectations I have for the boys. My Christian faith is the guide for my life and I have never been one for forcing my faith down someone’s throat, but I also believe it to be cowardly, and hypocritical to shy away from what I believe. You as parents need to know for yourselves and for your boys, that when the opportunity presents itself, I will be honest with what I believe. That may make some people uncomfortable, but I did that as a player, and I hope to continue it in any endeavor that I get into. I am just trying to get as many potential issues out in the open from the beginning. I believe that the biggest role of the parent is to be a silent source of encouragement. I think if you ask most boys what they would want their parents to do during the game; they would say “NOTHING”. Once again, this is ALL about the boys. I believe that a little league parent feels that they must participate with loud cheering and “Come on, let’s go, you can do it”, which just adds more pressure to the kids. I will be putting plenty of pressure on these boys to play the game the right way with class, and respect, and they will put too much pressure on themselves and each other already. You as parents need to be the silent, constant, source of support.

Let the record stand right now that we will not have good umpiring. This is a fact, and the sooner we all understand that, the better off we will be. We will have balls that bounce in the dirt that will be called strikes, and we will have balls over our heads that will be called strikes. Likewise, the opposite will happen with the strike zone while we are pitching. The boys will not be allowed at any time to show any emotion against the umpire. They will not shake their head, or pout, or say anything to the umpire. This is my job, and I will do it well.

I think this is just a great letter. Honest. Forthright. A compelling vision and a call to participate.

Mike’s efforts are a great example of a Christian who is not content to leave the brokenness he sees in sports alone. He wants to do something about it. He wants to redeem that sport. I applaud his vision and courage. May his tribe increase.

Submitted By Ken Cross Executive Director, Sports Chaplains Network

Christianity: Before, During or After the Game

christiansports-01100 Division III athletes, all who identified themselves as Christians, were asked a series of questions that probed into the impact of their Christianity on their sports involvement.  While the questions weren’t asked in exactly these three categories – BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER the Game – the answers broke down into these three.

The good news – 100 of these athletes said their Christianity affected them BEFORE and AFTER the game.  They prayed, they read something, they talked to someone specifically.

The bad news is how many of them said their Christianity affected them DURING the Game.  How many do you think?

By the fact that I call it bad news, the number is low.  Just how low is it?     Zero.

That’s right.  None of the players saw their Christianity as affecting them during their time on the court, in the field. This seems rather depressing and almost too difficult to believe. Here are two supporting stories for you skeptics:

1)  I shared this research recently at a Coaches Training.  Afterwards, a young, tall woman approached me.  Here is what she said:

I played D2 Volleyball at a “Methodist

Comfort in Chaos

By Roger Lipe, Sports Chaplain Sports Mentor, Southern Illinois

Our service of the people of sport is often mundane and slow.  There are hours of standing and watching a practice, long bus rides or plane flights to endure along with occasional doubts about the wisdom of such use of time.  At other times we’re in a vortex of noise, confusion, anxious personalities, screaming people and indecision.  To serve effectively we must find a way to be comfortable in such chaos.

We feel the chaos for a number of reasons, among them is the fact that we’re really not in control of most of the situations where we serve.  Someone else is running the practice, the competition, the emergency room, the surgery center, the coaches’ conference room or changing room.  The lack of control feels like chaos.

Another reason for our discomfort is that we’re seldom the center of attention.  If we’re Church leaders, we’re probably used to everyone following our lead and our agenda.  It feels chaotic when we’re not in charge of the timing of the team’s activities.  We have to become comfortable with that and simply fulfill our responsibilities.

The closer one is to the court, pitch, field or ground at the time of competition, the more the chaos is amplified.  While standing on the sideline of college football for 15 seasons has ruined me, I hate to watch games from the seats, it has made me progressively more comfortable with the rush of chaotic-feeling noise and activity which surrounds me and the team.

Let’s become comfortable with the chaos which accompanies our world of sport and simply relax.  Our relaxed attitude will make us more effective in service, more winsome in nature, and more intuitive in heart with those whom we serve.

Comfort in Chaos

green_grassland-wideBy Roger Lipe, Sports Chaplain Sports Mentor, Southern Illinois

Our service of the people of sport is often mundane and slow.  There are hours of standing and watching a practice, long bus rides or plane flights to endure along with occasional doubts about the wisdom of such use of time.  At other times we’re in a vortex of noise, confusion, anxious personalities, screaming people and indecision.  To serve effectively we must find a way to be comfortable in such chaos.

We feel the chaos for a number of reasons, among them is the fact that we’re really not in control of most of the situations where we serve.  Someone else is running the practice, the competition, the emergency room, the surgery center, the coaches’ conference room or changing room.  The lack of control feels like chaos.

Another reason for our discomfort is that we’re seldom the center of attention.  If we’re Church leaders, we’re probably used to everyone following our lead and our agenda.  It feels chaotic when we’re not in charge of the timing of the team’s activities.  We have to become comfortable with that and simply fulfill our responsibilities.

The closer one is to the court, pitch, field or ground at the time of competition, the more the chaos is amplified.  While standing on the sideline of college football for 15 seasons has ruined me, I hate to watch games from the seats, it has made me progressively more comfortable with the rush of chaotic-feeling noise and activity which surrounds me and the team.

Let’s become comfortable with the chaos which accompanies our world of sport and simply relax.  Our relaxed attitude will make us more effective in service, more winsome in nature, and more intuitive in heart with those whom we serve.

Submitted by: Ken Cross

 

The Pain of Losing Well: Michigan’s Heartbreak

michbball-300x168Monday night’s National Championship game between Michigan and Louisville was a classic. It was an uptempo game with lots of story lines that Louisville eventually hung on to win. The game ended and Louisville cut down the nets and celebrated. As it should be, much of the talk after the game was on the greatness of their team.

What about the losers though? How did Michigan handle the loss?

I would highly encourage you to read this article from Grantland about the Michigan team following the loss. Below are some excerpts:

In the hallway outside the Michigan locker room, we the media huddled on the far side of the retractable dividers, a mass of cameras and notebooks and digital recorders. Inside, head coach John Beilein had a few minutes to speak in private with his players after they’d lost the national championship game to Louisville. When he was done, the players took their turn. Glenn Robinson III went first, which surprised the others because of his shyness. The theme of his speech and those that followed was constant: This was a great season, we’re brothers for life, we should be proud. When everyone had finished, they sang the fight song together. It was a postgame tradition normally reserved for a win, but it felt like the right way to end the season.

[...]

Trey Burke: “It’s definitely difficult; it’s definitely tough. But as a Michigan man — the type of character you have for yourself — you have to be able to handle that. You have to be able to lose with pride and win with pride. That’s what we did. After losses like this, it definitely hurts. But you have to be able to talk to the media and get it off your chest. You know, not really express your emotions that may be in your head. You can’t really — you might be mad, you might be sad, things like that — but you have to reflect on the season you had, you have to think about the good times and things like that. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to grow from it and learn from this experience.”

[...]

John Beilein: “What is really unique, not only they love the coaching staff, the coaching staff loves them; they love each other. The word ‘love’ was used over and over and over. Two 19–year–old guys said, ‘I love you.’ That’s pretty deep stuff.”

 

 

Misapplication of Scripture in Sports Ministry

Roger D. LipePARTNERS IN MINISTRY

By Roger D. Lipe, Sports Chaplain/Character Coach/Sports Mentor

After having delivered hundreds of pre-game chapel talks, having lived through over nineteen sports seasons as a sports chaplain, having heard and read many years of post-game remarks by ecstatic players and more recently, a few years of tweets and Facebook posts, I have endured the misapplication of many verses of scripture to sporting situations. More often than not a player or coach is claiming a promise he or she sees in the Bible and hears it as God’s absolute guarantee of victory. More often than not, that scripture has nothing to do with such matters. A few of the more egregious examples follow.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

“Them’s Fighting Words!”

Powerboatby Laurie Vidal, Chaplain for Powerboat Racing, Legacy Ministry International

Every once in a while, someone gets mad in boat racing. Now most of the time we are a very focused group, going about our business, sharing laughter and fun; but then ….tempers flare!

A couple times we’ve seen fists go up and words fly. It isn’t often, but it happens. Most of the time, after a cooling off period everyone seems to be ok. It isn’t surprising between the hot temperatures, long days, short nights and intense competition, we can over react or take something the wrong way.

Relationships are fragile. Harmful words when spoken can seem like the banner plane flying over Daytona Beach! There in plain sight the words that hurt circle in the air for all to observe. The words creep into the mind of the hearer and hurt and anger are harbored in the heart.

No ‘easy-to-do answers’. Just some illustrative proverbs like: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.

Holding On By a Thread

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

When I was growing up we had every type of dog God ever created. At one point we had four dogs outside (one about to give birth to a litter of basset hounds) and inside we had two dogs and a cat that was the feline version of Rain Man! So in my “adult” years I have had a strong opposition to pets. However, you would not know it if you came to my home. We currently have two dogs outside, four hens, a rooster, the neighbor’s guinea is in my yard more than his and of course we have a 7-year old Cooper inside, also known as my son.

We took a family walk the other day and I had our latest addition, an oversized black lab, on a leash. Or did he have me on a leash? We named him Tebow and I realized on this particular walk that he is stronger than the football version of Tebow and maybe we should have named him Sherman, as in tank! All I could do was hold on to my end of the leash and hope he got tired or got hit by a passing truck. I have had times in my life when I have felt the same way. Except, I was not holding on the end to my rope, my rope was actually dragging me all over the place.

What does God’s Word say?:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NLT)

“So do not lose the courage you had in the past, which has a great reward. You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36 (NCV)

 

Earlier this year, I felt like life was dragging me around like my dog on a leash. All I wanted to do was let go, but the only thing I knew to do was hang on. Have you ever been there? You see no way out, so you just give up. It could be the exam you bombed, the girl that kicked you to the curb, lost job, broke relationship and on and on it goes. Life presses in on us from every side and there seems to be no escape hatch or exit plan.

There is an old saying, “you don’t quit wrestling a gorilla when you’re tired, you quit wrestling when the gorilla’s tired!” God’s timing is so faithful; it is just not always on our schedule. Sometimes God allows us to hold on to the rope because that is where we truly get stronger and where we rely on Christ with all we got because He is all we have! As you feel the pull and drag of life all around you, don’t give out, but look up. Christ is enough when you have had enough. Just a thought!

 

About the author: Lance Brown is the Founder and Director of WhoUWith? Ministries, established in July 2001. He also serves as the Sports Chaplain at Vanderbilt University.