Booing. Shouting. Finger-pointing. Adults getting up in one another’s faces, arguing against a call.
All this I have seen—in an elementary school gym. In a Christian school, no less.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NIV).
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
We know these commands, right? We’re called to live these values. We’re Christians, after all. Jesus people.
Why, then, does our Christlike conduct fly out the window as soon as there’s a ball and a referee involved?
At a tournament recently, I had the chance to sit squashed in the bleachers among parents from every corner of our community, thrown together to cheer on pint-size basketball players who are just learning the ins and outs of the game.
Of course, we all want to see our kids succeed, and I suppose it’s natural for mama and papa bears to question a call or secretly rejoice when the other team misses a free throw.
Yet how easy is it to trip the threshold of self-control and say out loud what we ought to take captive in our heads?
C’mon, ref! Don’t you see her traveling?? Are you blind, man? Boo! Boo! Our team is gonna CRUSH your team! We’re gonna wipe the floor with your players! Oh please—this bracket is clearly rigged. We should’ve played that other team first. What a bunch of garbage!
Hmm. What are our words and actions really communicating to our kids and others around us? What do they say about our faith in God?
Sports can be an influential part of shaping our children’s values and Christlike character. Or sports can become the avenue by which parents and kids alike lose their witness for Jesus, simply by acting the way the world does, and not as Jesus would.
Which one are you going to choose?
Let’s be Jesus people wherever we go—in the bleachers, on the sidelines, in the carpool ride to the games and back.
Our children are watching, their teammates are watching, those teammates’ parents are watching—and so is God. And he is cheering loudest of all—for you and me, to persevere in honoring him.
We can do this.
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