I have been known to be a bad sports fan in addition to being a bad Christian. I suspect those confessions could be related. I grew up a rabid Cleveland Brown's fan and that is, unfortunately, a lifetime condition. You try and manage your Brown's addiction while hoping to lead a somewhat productive life. I completely related to a story about a Brown's fan who passed away last year. Scott Entsminger placed this request in the Columbus Dispatch obituary.
He respectfully requests six Cleveland Browns pall bearers so the Browns can let him down one last time.
I became a Baylor Bears fan (thanks to my boys) much later in life. Incredibly, the Brazos Baptists have become a national football power. So I geared up for a big game last Saturday against forever power Oklahoma. During the game I agonized over missed opportunities. Fumed over momentum changing penalties. Expressed frustration when a defender missed a tackle. Baylor overcame a tough first quarter and played well to gain a big win.
But a fourth quarter incident reminded both my bad sports fan and bad Christian sides that this is just a game played by non-professional young men. Outstanding Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight was sacked and hit hard. He did not get up. Concerned medical personal gathered around as a medical cart pulled up. And then the TV cameras caught a scene that has stayed in my mind since Saturday afternoon.
Knight's twin brother and fellow Sooner player Connor Knight watched his brother with obvious concern. Baylor star QB Bryce Petty and linemen Spencer Drango and Tyler Edwards approached Connor Knight. A few words were exchanged and then the Baylor players and their Oklahoma foe knelt together to pray for Trevor Knight. Moments earlier the two teams had competed ferociously. In a moment of crisis they put that aside to join in prayer for an injured brother.
It was a sobering reminder that sports is a good thing but far from an ultimate thing. Four young men forgot that they were competitors and remembered they were first and foremost followers of Christ.
Thankfully, Trevor Knight gave a thumbs up and pointed heavenward as he was carted off the field. After the game he was walking around and Sunday received a favorable MRI result. Knight posted this on Twitter.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who prayed for me! Thankful for good results and a God who is completely in control!," Knight posted.
A couple of thoughts from Paul's letter to the Ephesian church fit in here.
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. (Ephesians 4:2-4, NLT)
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:30-32, NLT)
This morning I am humbled by twenty-something (or younger) athletes that put aside differences to pray together. And I am challenged by an athlete who believes his God is in control even during a trial. Good reminders for those of us who may be more experienced in our faith but perhaps not always as mature.