Love Not Hate

Love Sweet Love

Here’s a note to the protestors in Charlottesville, and everywhere else that the race haters are hating: what the world needs now, is love, sweet love, not hate, bitter hate. That’s in God’s Playbook.

The late, great leader of the Civil Rights Movement said this:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Amen brother.

On and off of the court, sporting events are the great unifier. Red and yellow and black and white, we all join on the track or on the field or in the pool or on the slopes or on the hardwood or on the gridiron to compete and to win. The Olympics, The World Cup, Word Championships, Wimbledon, the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Masters and many other major championship events tend to draw and unite and combine and bond and bind us like no other positive event can. 

So here’s to sports and teams and teammates. Because we are all are of one blood. And we all have the same goal: to win.   But when we hate and bite and devour, we lose. We all lose.

The bottom line is this: sports are the great educator. When we play together we learn how to be good sports and how to be sportsmanlike. We learn how to play through hot, sultry summers and cold, windy winters. We learn to shake hands before and after the game. We learn to help an opponent get up and to pause when a member of the opposing team goes down.

So let’s get back to being good teammates, on and off the court. When you love the game you respect the game, and those that play it. And sports teach you to love not just the game, but those that play it. And in the game of life, that’s all of us, red and yellow and black and white, because we’re all precious in His sight.

 Because what the world needs now, is love, sweet love, not hate bitter hate.

 What the World needs now, Is love, sweet love

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

What the world needs now Is love, sweet love,

No, not just for some, but for everyone.

 

 

Note To Ezekiel Elliott: Don’t Dig Your Own Grave  

 

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The Dallas Cowboys in general, and Ezekiel Elliott in specific, are digging their own grave. Elliot was just suspended for six – count ‘em – SIX games. That’s over a third of the season. Sheesh. That’s like a 60-year-old missing twenty years of life. It’s like not living for the first four months of the year.  It’s like not showing up for work on a 9-5 job until well after 11 every day.  That’s a formula for losing, and losing at the game of life is not something that any of us should want to do.

So is this suspension a big deal?  I’ll say.

What’s a Super Bowl favorite to do without the heart and soul of their team?  Lose.  And lose they will.  The Cowboys are implicated as much as Elliott in this me because they defended him and covered for him and basically acted like the investigation was no big deal.  Wrong answer.

When you dig your own grave you’re way behind before you even start and you’re just about out before you even get to the plate. You don’t want to give your enemies and adversaries and opponents and rivals a head start in a short race, and that’s exactly what Ezekiel Elliott did to his team and his teammates by making bad decisions.  Now, the Eagles, Giants, and yes, even the lowly Redskins have more of a chance at winning the NFC East without Elliott in the lineup for a third of the season. 

Oh well. People make their own choices, and sometimes people in general, and athletes in specific, dig their own grave through addictions to drugs or drinking or sexual activities or senseless behavior.   “Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health. People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/addiction

And that’s the bottom line. Does Ezekiel Elliot realize how he has affected his life, much less his team?  The problem, or problems, Ezekiel Elliot has caused for himself are bad enough, but the injuries to his former girlfriend and the suspension from the team hurts people way beyond his personal space.  Maybe the suspension, if it is upheld, will give Zeke time to think and reflect and get help and mend his ways.

They say that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  And in Zeke’s life, there’s a smoldering bonfire ready to explode if he doesn’t put it out.

Kyrie Irving and Demanding Children

Kyrie Irving Trade

There was a time when people — and for the purposes of this blog, people are athletes — were almost always respectable and correctable, reputable and commendable. But not now. There was a time when folks and sports figures were almost always faithful and forthright, dependable and reliable, tried and true. But not now. And you already know I’m speaking of Kyrie Irving.

Kyrie Irving has demanded — that’s right, DEMANDED — a trade from Cleveland to anywhere in the NBA. Or almost anywhere he wants to go.  What the what?  There was a time not too long ago when no one would have blamed him. But not now. Now he plays with LeBron “King” James. Now (or most recently) his team went to the NBA Finals and represented the Eastern Conference for the past three years. And just last year, his team beat the Golden State Warriors to win Cleveland’s first NBA Championship, ever. And now he’s demanding a trade? C’mon MAN!

Why is Kyrie’s situation different than any and all of the other players who jumped ship and skipped town and got out of Dodge to go to another team? Because THEY were free agents, and they didn’t have two years left on their contracts. That’s the difference.

Demanding children are a product of our times. The Bible says that children will, in the last days, “be disobedient to their parents, unthankful, and unholy.” And all of this absolutely applies to professional athletes who are like children. These adult jocks are offspring of the sports marriage of owners and fans; they are essentially professional sports children who play for their professional sports “parents,” aka professional teams.

That’s why it’s unconscionable for me to even wildly imagine or dare to dream that I would have “demanded” anything from my parents, Elmer and Lerotha. And if I did, I was wrong for doing so. That’s God’s playbook.

Children are to respect their parents.  Peroid. End of discussion. Unfortunately, too many children today are dishonoring and disrespecting their parents, at will. Now, instead of parents raising children, today we have children raising parents.  

The reward given to respectful, reverential children is a long and fruitful life. And this absolutely applies to sports children of sports teams.  When I grew up, they taught me that what goes around comes around. And I just believe that athletes today who “demand” trades aren’t being the respectful, respectable offspring that they should be.

 

With Jesus, God Hit A Home Run

Home Run Derby Logo

The Urban Dictionary says that hitting a home run is synonymous with going all the way with your girl, colloquially speaking. Biblically, marriage is the place for the union of a man and a woman. Home runs can be hit all day within the sanctity of the union of a husband and wife. That’s in God’s playbook. Because this coming together of a man a woman is so wondrous and so wonderful, the Bible calls it “a great mystery.”

Sports and heavy theology may be too much for folks to fathom here in a sports blog, but I’m going to give it a whirl anyway.  In Ephesians, Paul says that Jesus is the husband and His bride is the church. And every believer is a part of the church, so we all,  collectively, are married to Jesus. Heavy stuff, huh? So that’s why I’m not going to argue with the Urban Dictionary on their definition of a home run. Got me?

Home runs are the “touchdowns” of baseball and they are the primary, principle and preeminent way that you score on the diamond. Yes you can hit a double or a sacrifice fly and bat a run in (the statisticians call this an RBI), but nothing quite compares to hitting a home run when the game is on the line. To be sure, home runs stand at the pinnacle of America’s game.

Spiritually speaking, God hit a home run with Jesus.  Believe it or not, believe in Him or not, Jesus is a historical figure that changed history. Mankind was behind and had no way to catch up. God, in his infinite wisdom, called on and sent in Jesus to save the day.

And Jesus came in and hit it out the park. His virgin birth and His claim to be the Son of God were just the beginning and were the start of something big. He then performed miracles; Jesus opened blind eyes, healed the sick, cured lame men and women, cast out demons, and even raised the dead.  And if that wasn’t enough, he died on the cross for our sins and then rose again on the third day. If that’s not home run material, I don’t know what is.

So if you need someone to step up to the plate and hit a home run and win the game for you, call on Jesus.  Call Him in to pinch hit when you’re down and almost out. I guarantee that He will hit a grand slam homerun for you.  

You Should Join A Super Team!

Durant Finals MVP

Yes, you should join a super team. Everybody’s doin’ it, right? I mean anybody and everybody in the NBA is jumping ship and breaking rank and joining another team to make a super team. And why not? If KD did it, and Kevin Garnett before him did it, and of course LeBron did it (even though he says he didn’t), then why shouldn’t all of the other superstars do it?

One thing is for sure: super teams win. Durant proved it once again this season. The problem now is, who’s got the superlative super team? Just like there’s only one basketball to share on the court, there’s only one championship trophy; but with the Larry O’Brien, there ain’t no sharin’. 

Truth be told, the first super teams were back in the late 60’s when Wilt Chamberlain flew out of Philly and latched onto the Lakers to help Jerry West beat the Celtics (but they never did.)  Then, Dr. J left the ABA New Jersey Nets to join the 76ers.  They lost to Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and the Portland Trailblazers in 1977 and then lost to the Lakers twice, in 1980 and 1982. Then, the Sixers snatched Moses Malone from Houston to form, guess what, a Super Team!  With all stars like Doc and Moses and Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones, the ’83 Sixers were truly a super team.

So fast forward to 2017, 40 years after Doc came to Philly. Now we have multiple super teams as a result of Kevin Durant going to the Warriors to beat the Cavs in this year’s finals.  Since Golden State has four bona fide all-stars, teams are scrambling this off season to grab as many available all-stars as they can to add to their roster in hopes of being a better team. Everybody now needs to be a super team in an effort to dethrone LeBron in the East and KD and Steph Curry in the West.

And just in case you’ve been vacationing on the back side of Siberia for the past week, here’s what’s been happening in NBA Free Agency:

Paul George left Indiana for OKC to play with Russell Westbrook.

Chris Paul left the LA Clippers for Houston to team with James Harden.

Jimmy Butler left Chicago for Minnesota to team with Karl Anthony Towns.

Gordon Hayward left Utah for Boston to play with Isiah Thomas and rookie phenom Jayson Tatum.

JJ Reddick left the LA Clippers to join Philly and their collective cash of young talent, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.

AND with all that, the Warriors still got better. Not to be outdone, the defending champions coaxed Nick Young from the Lakers for a one year deal.

 And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So what about you?  What super team are you going to join? No one wants to lose, so why stay with a losing team when you can be on a winning team right now? And why play on a “good” team when you can play on a great team?

Team Trinity from Heaven is a super team. This team wins all of the time, and can defeat any foe.  This team has been winning and whipping and walloping opponents for centuries on end. God the Father, God the Son and yes, God the Holy Spirit have teamed since eternity past and this team is built to win now, and for all time. All we have to do is sign up and sign on, and learn, and execute, the game plan. That’s it. It’s that simple. It’s that easy.

So why not sign up with this sacred, super team today? You’re destined to win with the Godhead. With the triumphant Trinity, you can and will defeat dastardly, diabolical, demonic denizens if you only stop trying to be a superhero by trying to do it all by yourself. 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, with all of his triple doubles this past season, proved one thing: that way just won’t work.

You Need To Go To A Baseball Game

Guess what? I went to a baseball game! And not just any game – I went to Orioles Park at Camden Yards to watch the O’s play the St. Louis Cardinals.   And we had a blast. It was a Father’s Day gift from my wonderful wife, and my son came down from Philly to join us.  It was just what the doctor ordered. 

Never mind it was 90 degrees in the shade! But thank God we had shade, because we would have baked and broiled and fried to a crisp in that hot sun. But who’s complaining?

Never mind I’m not an Oriole’s fan. Before the game, I couldn’t tell you one player on their roster, but that doesn’t matter. We were at the ballpark, a ballpark I’d never been to before, mind you, and the feel and the vibe and the atmosphere were second to none. AND this season Camden Yards is celebrating their 25th Anniversary!  You mean to tell me that I’ve been talking about going to Camden Yards for 25 years?! Good  gracious! 

And never mind I wasn’t wearing black and orange, the home team’s colors; the rule is, you “route, route, route for the home team,” and cheer and yell and scream for the home team I did. There were a heap of home runs and triples (two in one game by the home team)  and it was a thoroughly entertaining affair. In the end, it’s always great when the home team wins big, and the O’s won 8 to 5. At one point, the score was 7 – 2, and it wasn’t that close.

So why do you need to go to a baseball game? I’m glad you asked.  Going to a game, pretty much any game, puts you in touch and in tune with the game.  Yes most of us watch on TV because we can’t get to the stadium or the arena or the park everyday (not to mention we can’t afford to do so). But there comes a point when you just have to be there.  

And here’s the point; there is no sustitute for presence.  In life and in sports, being there is just as important, and sometimes more so, than the outcome. My wife loves gifts, but she loves me more. And I enjoy her company and the company of my sons and daughters more than what they can give me or buy me or order on line.

So, the next time you want to dial it in,  or take a rain check or wait until next time- think again. Because being there is more fun, and getting there is half the fun.

Live Like a Lion

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If you haven’t seen the 2017 film “Lion” yet, stop reading.  Stop reading now. Do not pass go, and do not collect $200. You must make or take time to watch this film. 

“Lion” has a litany of lessons and points and positives that all combine to teach a meaningful, muscular message that will preach for a lifetime. It’s a rags to riches, lost and found, comeback story of redemption that transcends race and creed and color, and yes, religion. God is not the author unfortunate circumstances, but He is the editor.  And God can edit any and every life circumstance for good. 

Rex Reed said that “Heartwarming ‘Lion’ Is the Feel-Good Tearjerker We All Needed.” Amen.  Another review posted on Cinemabravo.com says it all:

“Lion” has a genuine and heartfelt purpose that not all celebrated artsy films have. Lion has emotional depth as deep as the ocean; moving, like its waves; it’ll sway you, but it won’t drown you. The tide of this film’s journey will take you someplace else, making it an experience rather than just another movie to watch. That is more than enough for a film to stand tall.

Director Garth Davis’ biggest achievement is perhaps giving the film a soul as the actors give it a heart. Also, an honorable mention to its sublime cinematography for a visually stunning picture — alluring yet gritty, colorful yet dark — a manifestation of a lost child’s journey towards finding his home: eventful, oftentimes dangerous, but ultimately hopeful.

Lion comes roaring to life from across the screen because it “ fully relies on iconic characters and inspiring storylines about a journey of a person — more so a character study of a man’s heart and soul, tackling every emptiness and every joy. Lion gives such nostalgia to that era of filmmaking that contemporary cinema is often prejudiced of. It is a reminder that the most important element of cinema as art is how it affects and transcends emotions across the screen. Lion does just that without the clichés of a conventional melodrama.

This is one of Nicole Kidman’s best roles because her performance is universal; she epitomizes maternal instinct and unconditional love that radiates even with such limited screen time. Dev Patel’s performance as adult Saroo is the core of this film. You will root and hope for him, until you find yourself clinging to his search for life. Again, another universal performance that isn’t difficult to sympathize with.” Dennis Buckley, https://cinemabravo.com/2017/04/06/movie-review-lion-2017/

Sunny Pawar, an enchanting, lovable boy, plays the lead character at age five, and Dev Patel plays the adult – Saroo. Both have acute, lion-like instincts that enable them to survive and even thrive under the best and worst of circumstances. And so the moral of the story is this: live – and for you athletes, play – like a lion. Because no other animal can endure and forbear the stresses and strains of life like a lion can.

And you can’t beat the theme song either.