Guest Post by Scott Tyson
For years I’ve tried to put into place as many practices, principles, rules, objectives, and roadblocks as possible to help avoid conflicts. But is that really the best approach for a gospel-centered sports Ministry (or any ministry for that matter)?
Up until recently I would have responded with an emphatic “yes.” Let’s make sure we have a family-friendly, warm and fuzzy, everyone needs to get along and love each other atmosphere because then everyone will be happy. Conflict is not an option and must be eliminated.
I think I was wrong. While I’m not advocating that we create conflict on purpose, I am saying we shouldn’t be afraid to embrace it within the context of sports.
Two years ago, the nightmare situation for any leader/organizer of a league actually happened – the dreaded walk-off (and we aren’t talking about baseball here). One of our teams walked off the field just before halftime and ended the game because the coaches were unable to work out their “differences.” They did not agree on some of the calls and essentially viewed their opinion as more important than the players and parents who came out to enjoy a fun and competitive flag football game.
My initial response was how could this happen in a league like ours and I better start working on damage control as soon as possible (I was not at the game). These aren’t bad reactions but I failed to see the value in what had happened. For those at the field that day, this was an experience they will never forget. Furthermore, they will also never forget the reaction and response from the coaches, parents, players, and myself days after the incident.
Like many painful, uncomfortable, and tragic situations, we aren’t able to see the good while in the midst of it. It is only once we get down the road and look back that we can see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown as a result of that experience.
The walk-off game (as I now call it) helped me realize that conflict gives us a tremendous opportunity to help people recognize and acknowledge the brokenness in sports AND if handled correctly, take positive steps in demonstrating that sports can be redeemed — coached, played, and watched as God intended.
Even though we still try to minimize conflict within our sports leagues, I look forward to our next walk-off game.