David Burchett Christian Blog and Commentary

100 To Nothing Defeat Provides A Lesson In Grace

The Dallas Academy girls basketball team played a road game January 13th against The Covenant School. The girls from Dallas Academy did not expect to win. They haven’t won a game in four seasons. But they did not expect what happened.

The box score shows that Covenant scored 35 points in the first quarter before building a 59-0 lead at the half. The score after three quarters was 88-0. The final score was Covenant 100, Dallas Academy 0. Yep. Covenant threw a shut out.

Here is part of the original report from The Dallas Morning News. 

Against Covenant, Dallas Academy was surprised to see an obviously superior team keep the pressure on until it scored its 100th point in the fourth quarter. "They are really good," Dallas Academy Athletic Director Jeremy Civello said. "Their point guard is terrific. This is what it came down to in the second half: steal at half court and layup. Steal and layup. Steal and layup. It was a layup drill. They finally eased up when they got to 100 with about four minutes left." Covenant's point guard had 48 points.

Reading this story made me so angry. I imagined how furious I would have been. I remembered my days of coaching my sons. I did not run up scores but I was very competitive. I suspect an incident like this would have inflamed my sin nature to volatile levels.

Then I felt sad. These schools compete in a Christian private school organization in Texas. Sighhhhh.

Edd Burleson, director of 236-member TAPPS, had a different description. He called the Class 2A, District 3 game an "embarrassing incident. Our motto is 'Competition With Honor,' " Burleson said. "I can't see how the one school can live up to that." To be fair, Covenant has apologized and sought to repair the damage.

But then I read the part that convicted and then blessed me. I write a lot about grace. Sometimes grace is really, really, really hard to extend. I think the Dallas Academy Athletic Director could have been forgiven if he had missed the exit to the high road. But he did not. I can’t imagine that he did not feel angry and embarrassed. But the way he conducted himself publically reflected real grace. Here is another snippet from the Dallas Morning News.

More than a week later Dallas Academy Athletic Director Jeremy Civello was chalking up the game in the win column. "My girls never quit," he said. "They played as hard as they could to the very end. They played with all their hearts at 70-nothing, 80-nothing and 100-nothing. I was really proud of them. That's what I told them after the game."

The White Rock Lake-area school is renowned for its work with students with a variety of learning problems. The Bulldogs play, Civello said, for more than the final score. They play in hope of improving skills, learning teamwork and picking up whatever life lessons athletics may bring.

Later on the 100-0 night, Civello told his girls the life lesson they could take from their loss: "I told them someday they will be on top in a similar situation and they should remember how they felt when some people were cheering for a team to score a hundred points and shut us out. Hopefully, my girls all learned a lesson in sportsmanship that will last them a lifetime."

Wow. A followup story in the Dallas Morning News today revealed an offer from Covenant Academy to forfeit the game to Dallas Academy.

Dallas Academy athletic director Jeremy Civello said his school accepted the "heartfelt" apology delivered by Covenant's head of school Kyle Queal and athletic director Brice Helton. Civello said his school doesn't want the forfeit and wishes "Covenant's great girls team all the best for the rest of the season.”

"We don't think what happened is a reflection on those girls in any way." Civello said. "There a lot of good people at that school. We hope this blows over."

Paul would have been proud that the leadership of Dallas Academy followed God’s words to the Colossians.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Col 4, NIV)

Thanks to Jeremy Civello and the girls from Dallas Academy for showing the rest of us how to respond gracefully. Civello rejected the forfeit because his team did not earn the win. But Civello modeled what it looks to extend unmerited favor to an opponent. That is grace.

Unmerited favor was extended to me by God. Because of His grace I have salvation in Christ. Maybe if I really comprehended that truth I wouldn’t struggle so much to extend grace to those who make it a challenge. Hard to imagine they are less deserving that I am.

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.

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