Another day of basketball in the books. Two hours. Thirteen kids. Lots of hard work. Definite signs of improvement. It is cool to watch players experience success based on the focused feedback from coaches. It is even better to see acts of sportsmandship. There is room for improvement both in skills and sportsmanship. But the week is only half done. More is yet to come. I am hopeful that this concentrated week will encourage the players by showing them what is possible, not only in basketball, but in life.
In life, they will need to learn that being teachable will serve them well. A self-motivated work ethic will reap benefits. Disciplined attention to basic skills will improve their performance in every area of life. Care for others, rather than a focus on selfish desires will give them a profound sense of peace. Respect for others rather than sly mockery will in turn earn them respect. All of these are the kinds of things that can be learned in sport. They surface at teachable moments as the pressure of competition mounts; as friendships are forged in the shared pain of hard work.
A college music instructor once told me that sports is not a ministry. Apparently he felt his music groups were more of a ministry than the college basketball team since they went into churches to sing and perform drama, rather than playing against schools such as Reed College or some of the other local Bible colleges. As much as I enjoy music and drama, I personally recognize the power of sport as a vehicle to minister missionally to a generation of kids who might not otherwise hear the gospel. So the other coaches and I are working hard to forge strong relationships with the kids. Much headway has been gained. We are trusting God for breakthroughs in the hearts of each of them.