UNO! a.k.a., Claim Victory, Because Victory is Now

 

I pick the Dodgers vs. Yankees in the 2017 World Series.

 That’s right. Let’s renew and revive an East Coast, West Coast, “Left” Coast, “Right” Coast rivalry one more time for ole time’s sake. Could it be Boston vs. Chicago or Colorado vs. Houston, or the Nationals vs. Cleveland? Nope. It could be, but it won’t.  

How do I know you ask? Sometimes you just know. Sometimes you just have to go ahead and say what you see even before it’s actually audible or visible. Don’t wait until others see it, especially when you saw it first. Why? Because the Victory Is Now. Now is the time to decree and declare what you desire and determine to be your destiny.

And how about Super Bowl 51? Who ya got? I know only a fourth fraction of the season has been played, and this is only the quarter pole, but remember, the victory is now. That’s why I’m picking my Eagles (pronounced Iggles).

 My Eagles can win Super Bowl 51 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4th. That’s right, you “heard” it and read it first right here at http://www.Godandsports.net. My Eagles “can” win, because they’re just that good, and they’ve got room to get a whole lot better. Braggadocios, you say? An arrogant overreach? An overconfident overstep? Not if you understand the power of your words.

 The winners of the 2017 World Series and Super Bowl 51 played in February (I miss January Super Bowls – remember them?) must declare victory now. Before the first pitch of the playoffs and prior to reaching the pinnacle of America’s pastime and before they play football in December when it really counts, victory must be decreed and declared.

 In order to win in sports and in life, we need to decree and declare victory now. Because you can have what you say. In fact, you will have what you say, because you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). In fact, you will reap more that you sow, because of the principle of seed time and harvest. Seeds multiply. And multiplication always get’s you back more than you put in. So be careful what you put out, because just like in the card game UNO, it is most certainly coming back. The prophet said that if you “sow to the wind, you’ll reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7).

 Don’t get cynical on me. Some say that you don’t get everything you say. That may be true, but you won’t get anything you don’t say. Right?

 If you want to win, talk about it. Dream about it. Sing about it. Shout about it. Because your words will carry the crib or the coffin of your dreams. And you can kill a baby before it blooms and you can also revive a corpse even after its doom.

 So stop speaking doubt and downfall, because if you speak it, you’ll reap it. When you speak health and life, those words are the seeds that will eventually produce your harvest. Speaking in generalities never works. Saying maybe and perhaps and if and I wish I woulda coulda will get you exactly that. Somewhere between first place and dead last, which is nowhere with nothings to show for it. If you don’t get definite and decisive with what you want, that’s EXACTLY what you’re going to get. So watch what you say and be careful with what you speak.

 Just remember faith without works is dead, so you need to put your aim into action and match your desire with determination.

Cleveland Breaks The Record!

Cleveland Indians Logo

Don’t settle for what others have done. The path to victory is paved with the desire to exceed and excel and extend and expand upon what has gone before and what has already been. Newness of life and freshness of spirit are Heaven’s specialty.  God is all about newness and novelty and innovation and imagination.  So if you’re feeling drab and glum and sad and bummed out, break the record.

Don’t be a broken record. Don’t keep repeating the same ole, same ole to your own detriment and demise. Break the record. Do something different, special and exciting that will get the juices flowing. This urban idiom is one of my favorites. According to The Urban Dictionary, “ ‘Get The Juices Flowing’ means to become inspired to greater creativity, productivity, or energy, or to cause such a feeling in someone.” Isn’t that great?

So don’t miss how important and significant it is for the Cleveland Indians to win 21 games in a row. They broke the consecutive wins record of 20 games set by the Oakland Athletics, who won 20 consecutive games in 2002. The Indians are now tied with the 1935 Chicago Cubs of the National League with 21 straight wins.

Why is this such a big deal? First, setting records and then breaking others is spiritual.   “The most recent record setting win was a 5-3 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon in a game sealed by a diving Lonnie Chisenhall catch, evoking a postseason-worthy roar from the 29,346 in attendance and that gave goosebumps to anybody with a sporting soul”. That’s right. If you have a “sporting soul” you understand why breaking records in sports and in life is eerie and even ethereal. http://m.indians.mlb.com/news/article/254088838/indians-21-game-win-streak-against-all-odds/   

“This is the longest win streak in the 116-year history of the American League. It is tied for the second-longest win streak of all-time. It is the most consecutive games any team has won in 82 years. It is a baseball streak that is very much anti-baseball, because it counters everything we know about the humbling nature of a game played just about every day, a game in which ‘momentum is the next day’s starter’ and ‘Hall of Famers fail seven out of 10 times’ and all those other truisms you’ve heard time and again.’”  http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/sports/indians-set-mark-with-21st-straight-win-now-chase-disputed-mlb-record/CMFfkKn1OLvOQi4AW8ehXP/ Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

So, this is for those of us who relish swimming upstream and skirting across the field and cutting against the grain: let’s find a record to break. Let’s prove to all of the “go with the flow,” humdrum, dull, droll, dreary denizens of life that breaking records and reaching beyond our grasp is indeed worth the extra effort after all.

Too Much Talk and Not Enough Play

Lebron-Curry Some Cavaliers have been a little too cavalier with their comments. And some warriors have been a little too wanton with their words. Both teams are posturing and showboating and mudslinging so much that you wonder if they will have anything left when the games begin. There’s been too much work with the mouth and not enough play with the muscles. Of course the Finals haven’t begun yet, so let the talking terminate and let the games begin.

Goliath was a big mouth, and nobody likes a big mouth. Goliath was a loud mouth, trash talkin’, tongue waggin’ somebody. And until David came along, he could back up what he said by what he did. But that all changed. Because David could out talk his taunter because of what his God could do.

Trash talking is and always has been a part of the game. Oft-times players brag and boast about what they are going to do on the court and on the field, yet, only 50% of all trash talkers can deliver; only one team can win the battle for the game, and by extension, the trash talk war.

David and the giant Goliath engaged in what we would call trash talk. “The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.’”

But David was unphazed.  He did not talk trash; he spoke by faith. “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.’ ”  1 Sam 17:43-47, RSV

So many of us talk a good game, and yet we don’t back up what we say.  We say one thing, and do another. In my book, that’s trash talk. We promise but we don’t deliver. That’s trash talk.  Indeed we over promise and under deliver.  That’s trash talk.  We purport and “front” and sell wolf-tickets, yet when it’s time to cash them in, we come up short. We talk loudly and proudly before the game, yet slink silently and pitifully on the sideline; after boasting and brandishing we live unseen and unheard lives and are unable to back up what we say.

Many doubt our faith and our Lord. They are trash talking us.  They are wolfing us down. And so the question is, what is our response to this doubting, doubtful, degenerate generation? Like Goliath they look down on us and decry us and our God. Can we backup everything we say?  Can we do everything we promise? As Christians, can we perform and can we deliver?

No worries. As long as we speak the Word of God, we have no fear of trash talkers. And our Champion and King can back up what he says. He will do just what He says! Contrary to Ali, Jesus Christ the righteous is truly the greatest. What He promises He is able also to perform. So let’s follow our Lord’s example.  Let’s say we’re going to do the right thing, and then let’s DO the right thing. No more saying one thing and doing another.   No more reneging on our word. No more trash talk.

Don’t Let Your Fans Down

Charlotte Bobcats v Houston Rockets

James Harden let his fans down. He scored a measly 10 points in a Game 6 AT HOME when the playoff season was on the line. San Antonio was missing two of its superstars – Tony Parker AND Kawhi Leonard – and Houston and Harden still couldn’t muster enough mettle to win the game. And the worst part of it is, he played bad (badly for you English majors) and looked bad doing it. And his poor play in this seminal and signature game is another reason I’m not a James Harden fan.

Everybody has fans. Everybody has a fandom and a fan base and a fan nation that route and cheer us on and up and over the humps of life. These fans are crucial and critical to our psyche and our psychology; our fans are vital to our overall vitality and are essential for the state of our mind and the soundness of our soul.

That’s why we should never let our fans down. Even in defeat, loyal fans will cheer for you and chant your name and boost your game. But don’t let them down. Because fans have short fuses and long memories; while they will long remember your great game, after a dreadful loss, they will not soon forget that you are to blame.

Fans understand that nobody’s perfect and that everybody’s suspect. But when you don’t do your best or give your best or even TRY to play your best, you’ve done the worst thing imaginable in the eyes of your fans.

Your fans need to know that you’ve tried and that you’ve given it your best shot. While Harden had a sensational season, he had an uncharacteristically horrible last game of the series against the Spurs. And that’s what everyone, including this fan, will remember most.

So just remember, here’s what hardened athletes and every human heart beat have in common; it’s your friends and your favorites and your supporters and your sponsors that have your best interest at heart. They have your back. They will defend you against all comers (I’m from Philly so I DARE you to say a cross word about Allen Iverson!) But surely, I digress.

Loyal fans are the ones that will be there for you when the chips are down and the season is suddenly over. Remember not to forget and forestall the very fans you need to support you when the going gets rough.

So don’t let your fans down. At least they like you, bad days and bad games and all.

Thank God For Sports: a.k.a., Why Did God Invent Sports?

Kids Celebrating

God likes Baseball. And I think that He’s rooting for the Cubs this year (they’re in first place, right?) God likes football (American) and soccer (football) and basketball. God actually loves sports – ALL sports. And so it follows that God especially likes the Olympics. But more on that later.

So where were we? Oh yeah. God loves sports. God loves badminton and bocce ball and beach ball and bowling and lacrosse and laser tag. God loves gymnastics and aerobics and swimming and diving and crewing and sailing and skydiving and rock climbing and track and field and field hockey and everything else in between.

There are reasons why we need to actively participate in sports (and the key word is ACTIVELY, not passively, all you couch potatoes out there!) Here are three: 

“We need regular exercise. Kids on a sports team will be able to run, jump, and play with friends. Exercising in a group environment will teach kids to appreciate physical activity at a young age, likely reinforcing the habit for life. Keeping a child active is one key to preventing a sedentary lifestyle that could lead to serious health conditions like type II diabetes, stemming from childhood obesity.

 We need to learn sportsmanship. When children play an organized sport, they’ll learn to work together as a team to better understand respect and sportsmanship. Even though a soccer team may win a game, kids will be taught to congratulate the losing team and vice versa when the tables are turned.

 We need to relieve stress. Children that have difficulty coping with day-to-day stress at school or at home can use group sports for much-needed stress relief (And adults too). Even more importantly, children with a bad home environment can use team sports as an outlet instead of turning to drugs or crime as a result of peer pressure.” https://geckosportsblog.com/2014/12/22/what-you-should-know-about-the-benefits-of-kids-playing-sports/ 

So since I’m not alone, I found this article in Christianity Today by Mark Moring that pretty much sums up what I’d like to say on the subject:

So, if you play any sport in general, or if you play or played high-school sports in particular, you’re hardly alone. “More than 6 million students played sports at the high-school level last year. Wow!

But why do you play? According to a recent survey, you’ve apparently got some great reasons. Here are the top ten reasons high-school students play sports:

10. To win
9.   To learn new skills
8.   For the challenge of competition
7.   To be a part of a team
6.   To get exercise
5.   For the excitement of competition
4.   To do something I’m good at
3.   To stay in shape

2.   To improve skill

1. To have fun

The No. 1  answer was “To have fun.” I like that. I also like the fact that “to win” was buried at the bottom of the list.

Sure, winning is great. My team won the state basketball title my senior year, and that was one of the all-time highs of my life. But it wasn’t just the winning. That’s fleeting. Victories alone don’t make great memories. People do.

My teammates were my best friends in high school, and we had a blast. Sure, we worked hard in practice. But we had fun too. And man, those road trips on the bus—we really knew how to have a good time. Still, as I look at this list of good reasons to play sports, there’s one very good reason missing: To glorify God.

Actually, I think glorifying God and having fun kind of go together, at least when it comes to sports. If God gave you the ability to play sports, it pleases Him to see you having fun while using that ability:

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

So, when you play, play for him. That’s about as good—and as fun—as it gets.  If God gave you the ability to play sports, it pleases Him to see you having fun while using that ability.” 

 

Why Does Free Agency Cost So Much?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors - Game Seven

Kevin Durant is now a Warrior. Duane Wade is now a Bull.  And Derek Rose is now a Knick. Paul Gasol is now in San Antonio. Al Horford left Atlanta for Boston and Dwight Howard is in Atlanta instead of Houston. Whew! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

News Flash: everything that’s supposed to be “free,” aint — including “Free Agency.”  Every team that lost a player is either hurting or scrambling. Some teams may have gotten better, but many teams certainly got worse, and all teams are spending money like its water. So this is a good thing?

The Oklahoma City Thunder will never be the same. And some say that OKC will never rise again.  Truth be told, some teams, especially OKC, will falter and flounder and stumble and fumble for years to come. Because you don’t win and you can’t win without playmaking players. Your either draft them or trade for them or get them via “Free Agency.”  But at what cost?

I get it that players have the right to move from team to team and get more money than ever before. I do. I absolutely do. But I’m also an old fashioned, fuddy-dud when it comes to keeping a team together.  Because winning is all about chemistry.

OKC could have or should have said to Durant, “We’re committed to you and to winning so we’re going to go out and get the best players to complement you and Westbrook to make sure we have the best chance of winning a championship.” Maybe then Durant would have stayed with the Thunder and he may well have won Oklahoma City an NBA Championship.  But he’s not, and he won’t. And the cost to Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City Thunder is incalculable.

So what’s the lesson to be learned? What’s the moral of this story? Where’s the hidden truth in all of this?

Life is about choices and decisions and options and alternatives. And we all hope and pray that we’ll make the right choice and the correct decision and pick the right option and choose the best alternative all the time.  Wishful thinking. But thankfully God is so merciful that He can take even our bad choices and turn them around and allow good to come out of them.  

I’ve found out that some things you pay for twice, and others you pay for over and over again. Some decisions cost you big time. And the sting remains overtime. With some selections you lose friends and make enemies. It’s just like striking out at the plate. But other times you hit one out of the park on a 3-2 count. And sometimes, you get much more than you asked for and you pay next to nothing.

So here’s to making the right choices, every time, all the time, and trusting God to fix the wrong and make it right. Because everything costs something, even when you don’t have to pay.

The Sum of Pat Summitt

Summit

Pat Summitt was an icon. Pat Summit was a legend. Pat Summit was the sum total of what a coach and mentor should be. Pat Summitt’s wins and victories and championships and graduation rate are her legacy and are the summary of a superlative life well lived.  All that has been said and written about Pat Summitt are a mere synopsis of her influence and are proof positive that she was a force to be reckoned with.  

Pat Summitt built the University of Tennessee’s Lady Volunteers into a perennial power on the way to becoming the winningest coach in the history of major college basketball. The sports world now pauses to mourn her loss. Pat died today, June 28, 2016. Her death came five years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 64.

In 2011, Summitt announced she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, but vowed to keep coaching. “This is not a pity party,” she said. “We’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for Pat Summitt.”

She stayed on for one more year, securing the Lady Vols their 16th SEC Championship under her leadership before retiring. But she didn’t step away from the sport she loved.  Summitt battled the disease with “fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced,” her son, Tyler Summitt, said.

“Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.”  As the wins and the championships piled up, Summitt’s astonishing achievements commanded national attention and helped usher women’s basketball into the spotlight.

Tyler went onto say that “she’ll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many — she was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure.”

Pat Summit was driven to perfection and always remained true to her standards. That meant doing things the right way, no matter what. Summitt’s impressive coaching record earned her a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

President Obama paused to pay homage to this basketball great.  Obama said that “her legacy, however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired Pat’s intense competitiveness and character, and as a result found in themselves the confidence to practice hard, play harder, and live with courage on and off the court,” Obama said.

“For four decades, she outworked her rivals, made winning an attitude, loved her players like family, and became a role model to millions of Americans, including our two daughters.”

 Pat Summit NCAA-WOMENS-BASKETBALL-GEORGIA-AT-TENNESSEE-

Thank you for your life and legacy, Pat Summit.