For those of you checking out our blog for coaches week, I wanted to make you aware of an ongoing series on the blog entitled ‘Sports & Theology.’ Here’s a description of the series:
For those of us in the sports ministry world, we should seek to have a Biblical framework and theology of leadership, competition, winning/losing, opponents, effort, etc. Jesus demands to be Lord of our life and so being a Christian demands integrating faith into every area of life–including sports. As sports ministers, we need to be able to educate Christians in what it means to play/coach/spectate sports for the glory of God. In this way, we can (as agents of God) redeem sports and redeem culture and properly use sports as a laboratory and not just a bridge.
With this in mind, the Sports & Theology series addresses the worldviews of professional athletes. We’ve done a number of these posts on basketball players. Enjoy!
I would start with idolatry because I think almost every athlete struggles with sports being an idol. Kobe is known as one of the most intense, competitive athletes that has ever lived. So, why is he so intense? Why is he so “competitive”? Is his intensity driven by making the glory of God known? Doubtful*. I can attest, if we are not driven by the glory of God, we are usually driven by the glory of the self.
At the end of the day, this whole episode with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen is ultimately all about Kevin Garnett. Allen leaving the team hurts the team and thereby hurts his ability to succeed and win. Therefore, he’s mad at Ray Allen. It’s born out of selfishness and proves that the relationship, at least from Garnett’s perspective, was a commodity-based relationship. In other words, he valued Allen as long as he got something out of the relationship. Now, there is nothing to receive from the relationship so he becomes the enemy.
And there’s the lie or, perhaps, lies (plural). First off, you’re not a different person on the court than off. As John Wooden has famously said, “Sports don’t build character, they reveal it.” Sports tend to bring out the darkest parts of our soul especially the parts that we are so good at hiding elsewhere in life. When Durant says things like this, he has compartmentalized sports.
When in conflict, a good principle to live by is going to the person one-on-one. This comes from Matthew 18:15-20. The context in the passage is dealing with conflict within the church but I think you can safely extract that principle of going to the person and apply it to any conflict. Perhaps this is what Kobe did. Maybe he went to Pau Gasol and others first. Maybe not. Regardless, airing your dirty laundry to the media and thereby millions of people, is not a good idea.