Former Utah Jazz coach and president Frank Layden once said to a former player, “Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?” The player responded, “Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.” At this time of year, a frequent obstacle to making good decisions is apathy – the loss of enthusiasm or energy to perform. Many any teams and players are deciding how much they are willing to invest for the stretch run and as a result, poor decisions on the court are evident.
I’m blessed to be working with a program that routinely finds itself in the hunt at the end of the season. Even after being hit by the graduation of seven of our top ten players, we’ve rebuilt, survived a difficult start, and now find ourselves with another shot at a championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Apathy, though, can set in when you least expect it. Fatigue, the score of a game, off-the court issues, a coach’s job security, and demands of classwork can drain passion from players and from your team. Poor execution, half-hearted hustle, failure to communicate defensive calls, weak attempts to rebound, and silly mistakes are what you’ll see when apathy sets in.
Here are some quick guidelines for dealing with apathy to help both coaches and players limit poor decisions on the floor:
1. Make it personal
2. Have logical consequences
3. Set mini-goals
4. Keep the end in mind
5. Play for each other
6. Return to the basics
For applications to coaching check out Six Ways to Deal With Apathy. Apathy can creep in at any time and we have to be prepared to deal with it. Even the best players and the best teams have those “whatever” moments, but be on alert to stoke up the passion whenever apathy rears its ugly head!
LIFE – There’s no room for apathy in marriage!
One of the joys of coaching college student-athletes is observing young adults making major life decisions. The decision to spend your life in a committed marriage is one such decision. It’s a joy to watch as young people decide to act on the love they share with a commitment that will require effort, discipline, focus, and determination. Sounds like basketball, doesn’t it?
And just like basketball, even the best marriages will have to battle moments of apathy. I’d love to tell every player I coach that once they fall in love and find a spouse, life will be smooth sailing, but I know I can’t. In a world of imperfect people, good marriages are mindful to attack apathy as soon as it occurs and to shut out the messages of our society. One way to do that is to apply the same guidelines to your marriage as we do on the court. Remind each other of the personal benefits each of you receives through your marriage, set mini-goals to address areas of improvement, put each other first, and get back to the simple basics of your relationship. I’m not a marriage counselor and will not attempt to play one, ever, but I know I’m blessed in my life through my marriage to Kara. I value Barney’s advice on the Andy Griffith Show to do some “bud-nipping” and always nip it in the bud!
FAITH – Have you lost your passion?
Like players losing their enthusiasm for the game, many of us find apathy affecting our faith walk. When I find it difficult to fully participate in worship, when I find it burdensome to spend time in the Word, or when I neglect the opportunity to selflessly serve other people, I’m allowing apathy set in. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to do a heart-check in the same way coaches must inspire their players (Eph. 6:6):
6 not in the way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; (ASV)
When I spent hours in the gym as a child, I could get very thirsty, (and, yes – sweaty!). There was nothing better than running to the drinking fountain for relief. Occasionally, though, the fountain would let me down. The water would be lukewarm! There aren’t many things worse – and that’s the warning we receive from John in Revelations about apathy in our faith (Rev. 3:16):
16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (NIV)
Take action now. Don’t let apathy sneak into your life, your marriage or faith!
A special acknowledgement goes out to Bill Crowder with RBC Ministries and Sports Spectrum. I have been routinely blessed as a Christian coach through his writings and broadcasts on subjects like this!