Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jay McDermond: Some Christian Thoughts on Two More National Championships for Messiah College

This post might bother some of my readers, but I am posting it because I think it is a wonderful reflection on Christianity and sports at Messiah College, the school where I teach.

Jay McDermond is one of my colleagues in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies at Messiah.  In a post at his blog, "Crazy Scatological Things My Professor Says," he reflects on the role Christian faith has played in the most dominant collegiate program--both men's and women's--in the history of the NCAA Division III soccer.  Since 2000, the Messiah College men's team has won nine national championships.  The Messiah College women's team has won four.  Messiah College is the only college in NCAA history to win both the men's and women's soccer national championship in the same year.  They have done it four times.

Here is a taste of Jay's piece:

...But here is the “real” zinger: even in the midst of a hard fought competition for another national title and honor, our kids don’t forget who they are.  You don’t see the same foolishness you see from other teams.  Sure fouls are committed but not the serious fouls that result in yellow cards.  And red cards are unheard of…at least I can’t remember one of our players ever being red carded.  There is very little intentional tripping, throwing of elbows, and the other teams’ shirts are never torn because they are rarely pulled to hold a person back.

And if that isn’t enough, sometimes one of our guys does something truly bizarre in the middle of a game.  Like what Logan Thompson did Friday.  It was hot in Texas.  And the game with Loras was extremely intense for 90 minutes.  As regulation time drew near, people were beginning to cramp up.  In over time, one of the Loras guys dropped like a rock with a calf cramp.  His trainers were about to come onto the field to assist him.  However, if they did that, according to the rules, he would have to leave the game and would not be allowed to return.  Logan, himself, walked over to the guy in extreme pain lying on the ground, waved the Lora trainers off the field and worked the cramp out of his opponent’s leg.  It struck me as a NCAA Division III contextualization of Jesus’ commandment, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  It may have been the contextualization of “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”, but good hard competition probably shouldn’t be confused with persecution.  So, yeah.  Jesus isn’t on their side.  That isn’t the reason they win.  The fact that they play FOR Jesus, is another matter. They play as if his name, not theirs, is on the line.  And they play in a different way than many of their peers.

I am tempted to think the world would look a lot different if everyone who called themselves Christian went about their lives as if they were living for Jesus.  I know my little section of the world would improve, if I improved in this area.

Read the entire post here.