Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

The healthy Side of Competition

Posted by admin May - 14 - 2013 - Tuesday

This conversation came up recently. The guy wasn’t “challenging” me; he just really wanted to understand. “Coach J., how can a Christian man like you advocate the nature of competitive sports— particularly football with all the violence?!” I kinda muddled through an answer. I found a better answer this morning as I read my morning devotion from The Word For You Today.

When you hear things like, “Nice guys finish last” or “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing”— how do they make you feel? The sentiments in those statements and those like it characterize the state of our society today. They promote a workaholic lifestyle that can adversely affect our health, our family life and wreak havoc on the spiritual discipline needed to have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Soooooo…. what do we do?! Do we avoid all competition? Stop trying to win? Opt out of the race althogether? NO!!! There are some things that a follower of Jesus Christ CAN and should do:

1) Beware of competitiveness that leads to jealousy. In the Bible, Cain’s competitiveness toward his brother Abel led him to murder his brother in a fit of jealousy over what each brought as an offering to God. (See Gen. 4:1-8) Cain made the classic response: He put his “opponent” (his brother!) down in order to build himself up! King Saul became so wrought with jealousy over the adulation shown David that Saul tried to kill David numerous times. Saul’s jealousy grew like a cancer in him.

2) Understand that by seeking to excel in your calling, you exalt Christ! Paul writes in the Book of 1st Corinthians 9:24-25, “You’ve… seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win! All good athletes train hard… for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.” What’s Paul saying to those of us who are Christian coaches or players? Don’t give a second-rate effort. Don’t settle for mediocre results. Paul continues, “I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me. I’m staying alert and in top condition.” That should be how we play or coach our sport.

Getting ahead of others is NOT what it’s all about! It’s about maximizing all you have and all you do— for the glory of God! Jeffey Marx noted in his book, Season of Life, that Coach Joe Ehrmann’s concern about how we are training boys to be men in our culture is that there’s too much comparing and competing. And it starts as early as the playgrounds of the elementary schools. What we’re trying to say here is: the competing part is fine— IF done in the right spirit. It’s the comparing that gets us in trouble. It comes down to your definition of success. I think Coach John Wooden had it right! Success is (I’m paraphrasing) “peace of mind…. knowing that you DID your best to BECOME the best you’re capable of being.” The only person you are competing with is yourself. Strive to be the best you can be and use it as a platform to proclaim how much you love the Lord!

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