“Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.” That quote was stated by the distinguished coach, Phil Jackson, who has won eleven NBA championships and one Coach of the Year award in 1996. Over this past weekend, my basketball team and I had the opportunity to travel down to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for the Border Battle Tournament. During our time there, I was reminded that because we play basketball, we have the amazing privilege to strive to glorify God in all that we do, be an example for all the younger kids watching us, and create friendships with our coaches and teammates that will last a lifetime.
While in Indiana for the Border Battle Tournament, I was reminded of our central goal in life: to glorify God in all that we do. Basketball is a tremendous platform for that. Instead of getting overly angry at what we think is a horrible officiating call, we can accept that none of us are perfect and that the outcome of the game doesn’t define who we are in Christ. By congratulating and thanking the officials and opposing team on a great game no matter the outcome, we are showing that we truly appreciate them as people and not just as someone who made a horrible call in our opinion or someone who we dislike because we lost to them. We can be gracious winners and losers because we know that at the end of the day, basketball is just a hobby. Just a fun pastime. Amazingly, by the way we use basketball as a platform to spread Jesus’ love to everyone, it becomes more than that. It can become an impactful way to share Jesus with the rest of the world or at least in our sphere of influence. Using basketball as more than just a fun thing to do, we give glory to God.
Likewise, basketball gives us a platform to be an example for the younger kids watching us. Because the varsity level is the highest level of homeschool basketball competition, all the younger kids look up to and admire the guys on varsity. Varsity is what they aspire to reach. So by being gracious winners and losers, we set the standard of how the younger kids will play. It’s almost another form of mentoring. Even if we aren’t in direct contact with the younger generations (which we should be), by our example we are able to show how Christians should act in all situations. Someone is always watching us. Being examples of how Christian athletes should act, we give glory to God. He calls us to set the precedent. Diligently, we need to follow His lead. As Mark Twain wisely remarked, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” By the way we act in all situations, not just in basketball, we can set the benchmark for younger kids who look up to us.
Another perk of playing on a team, in any sport, is that you have teammates and coaches. With those teammates and coaches come potential friendships that could last the rest of our lives. Long drives to “away” games and tournaments allow plenty of time for bonding. Actually, we only have two “home” games between the start of the season in mid-November until the New Year. So far this season we have traveled about seven and a half hours to away games in Fremont, St. Johns, Carson City (which was a tournament where we played two games), Stanton, and Ft. Wayne, Indiana (a tournament of three games). At the Border Battle Tournament in Ft. Wayne, we stayed two days. Although we haven’t won all those games (we’re currently 3-6), we have enjoyed fellowship together and getting better as a team. Coming from different backgrounds and having different levels of basketball skills, we are all coming together for one purpose. That is, to glorify God. We can do that in the way we play the game as a team and the way we relate to each other. My hope is that these friendships won’t just last while we have basketball in common but will carry us along through all that life has to offer.
In closing, winning is not why we play the game of basketball. Sure, winning is fun. But who is going to remember the outcome of the games in twenty years? By playing the amazing game of basketball, we have the opportunity to strive to glorify God in all that we do, set the yardstick that the younger kids aim at, and foster true friendships which will last the rest of our lives. Will we play for something more or just settle for the highs and lows of winning and losing that don’t matter at all in God’s eyes? It’s how we conduct ourselves while winning and losing that matters to The Almighty.