What a complicated week this has been. As events unfold in France, we go about our lives, which for many of us includes the opening weeks of the basketball schedule. The daily grind of our jobs and calendars are quickly put into perspective as we appreciate the significance and the worldwide impact of radical extremists and the threat they pose. The rhetoric has picked up as we all search for answers. Who is to blame? We point fingers at Muslims. We argue political and ideological agendas. And we question laws, acts of Congress, and executive orders. Unfortunately, we also fail to recognize evil and where it comes from. The basketball world also has an unspoken enemy, so let’s identify it as we consider the unspoken enemy who is the source of all the troubles in our world.
BASKETBALL – The Enemy of Team Ball
It starts in youth ball. Rationalize it all you want, but every player who plays has to fight against the greatest enemy of the greatest team sport ever invented – selfishness. Players want to be noticed, they want the stats, and they compete against opponents, but also with teammates. For many, as their understanding of the game develops, the ability to root out selfishness is a battle that can be won; but don’t fool yourself, it’s always lurking. At the college level, we hope we can minimize it, but for some players it remains as a stain on their game. In our program we value teamwork and try to recognize selfishness. Selfish players:
- Shoot when they want to shoot, not when it’s best for the team.
- Take no responsibility for their passing skills.
- Hold the ball and fail to recognize when the defense has reset.
- Fail to recognize how their ability blends with the strengths of teammates.
- Refuse to create space and create opportunities for teammates.
And those are just a few examples on offense! We have just as many on defense. But at heart of the matter is basic selfishness. For many, it’s not a deliberate attitude. It’s an ingrained pattern of which many are not aware. So players, ask yourself, “Are you selfish?” And if you’re selfish on the court, more than likely, you’re selfish off the court. Name it and recognize it and then do something about it.
Jon Gordon hits it on the head when he writes about the selfless impact of former Cornell lacrosse player George Boiardi in his book The Hard Hat and uses Boiardi’s legacy to teach all of us how to be better teammates. When you tackle Gordon’s 21 Ways To Be A Great Teammate, you’ll find there are significant ways off the court to remove a selfish attitude and to deal with the enemy that so many of us fail to recognize and eliminate!
LIFE – The Core of the Battle
As much as my head and my heart spin as I watch the reports about ICIS and Syria and Putin and refugees and Obama, it’s helpful to identify the selfishness that goes on in this world. When you boil it all down, selfishness is found in the core of all these problems. It can even be at the center of so-called “humanitarian” agendas! Imagine, however, how our world could be altered if all of us would focus on just a few of Gordon’s suggestions for being a good teammate – Well done is better than well said, treat everyone with respect, leave the place better than you found it, etc. Wouldn’t some of these international problems be eliminated? But, because we live in a sinful world, all we can do is start with ourselves. As much as I challenge our team to be unselfish, I’m even more interested in teaching it to my kids. As they transition through college and into their careers, I certainly want them to pursue dreams, earn stable incomes, and find significance in their families, but most of all, I want them to learn to serve others and to make a difference in the lives of other people.
FAITH – The Divider
“The Greek word for devil is diabolos, which shares a root with the verb diaballein, which means “to split.” The devil is a splitter, a divider, a wedge driver. He divided Adam and Eve from God in the garden and has every intent of doing the same to you. Blame all unrest on him. Don’t fault the plunging economy or raging suicide bomber for this bloodshed. They are simply tools in Satan’s tool kit.”
The sooner we all recognize that the true battle is with Satan and that if we arm ourselves with God’s playbook and strategy,the sooner we can make sense of all the madness. Paul tells us:
“Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong.” (Ephesians 6:12-13)
Dealing with selfishness and sin is a constant in this world. There are horrible and tragic circumstances everywhere we turn, but God also tells us that we can resist and overcome Satan’s power with His help. So, do just that!