Monday, January 24, 2011

Teaching My Son How to be a Loser

Last week my son asked me a very difficult question. It wasn’t about Calvinism, where babies come from or what kind of animal Elmo is. It was about football.

“Dad, who’s the better team, the Gators or the Bulldogs?”

From early on I’ve taught my son that the best team always wins. I have done this to protect him from those terrible excuses losing teams make about the best team not always winning. Sports is the last great proving ground. Either you win or you lose. If you win, you’re the best. If you lose, try again next year. I’m very familiar with the try again next year category.

In my lifetime of being a sports fan, my favorite teams have a combined total of two championships.

I’ve only won participation trophies, never first place trophies.

I’ve never gotten a letter from a college offering to pay for my education as long as I play a sport for them.

I’m not the UFC heavyweight champion of the world (yet).

Once, about ten years ago while I was waiting for the dudes at the Jiffy Lube to change the oil in my car, I won tickets to see Puff Daddy, 8Ball & MJG at the Georgia Dome. The seats were on the back (top) row.

My son’s question reminded me of all of my shortcomings as an athlete and as a fan. It also reminded me of Ted Turner.

A few years back, I read somewhere that Ted Turner called Christianity a religion for losers. I can’t speak to the context of the quote or where Mr. Turner stands now but I agree with his assessment. I’m glad that Jesus came for the losers of the world.

I’m glad that Jesus came and died and rose again for sexually immoral women that can’t stay true to the same man and have been rejected by their community (John 4).

I’m glad that Jesus came and died and rose again for a crippled man that couldn’t get anywhere without finding four people to carry him around (Mark 2:1-12).

I’m glad that Jesus came and died and rose again for a thief that wasn’t good enough to avoid getting caught (Luke 23:26-43).

I’m really glad that Jesus came and died and rose again for a young boy growing up in a busted up family, a pimply faced teenager with no letters of intent to sign and a man trying his best to lead his family in the light of the gospel.

If my son is anything like me he wont have the ability to jump out of the gym so he’ll have to learn how to lose well. If he cheers for the same teams that I do, he’ll quickly learn how to decide which team to cheer for during the championship game since neither one is his team. I hope too that both of my sons can learn a little about the gospel and Jesus’ love for losers while they watch games with their dad.

So, I answered my son’s question honestly.

“Son, the Florida Gators are a better team than the Georgia Bulldogs because the Florida Gators always beat our Georgia Bulldogs.”


“Yeah, but dad, at least the Georgia Bulldogs are better than Georgia Tech.”

I can live with that.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'm Just Saying

I don’t get the phrase, “I’m just saying.” We've all heard it said and most of us have even used it from time to time. For those who have been too busy working on their end times charts or watching The Bachelor to make note of popular phrases, the I'm Just Saying Phrase is usually slapped on at the end of some form of an insult, apparently in an attempt to soften the sting a little. Kind of like when your boss fires you on your day off but tells you, "We wish you nothing but the best." It goes something like this.

“Your new girlfriend looks like Danny DeVito with a wig. I’m just saying.”

"Please don't make this story you are about to tell very long. Trying to follow your ramblings makes me dumber. I'm just saying."

"That baby shouldn't have been laying there in the first place. I'm just saying."

Oh, you were “just saying”. Now it all makes sense. I was just about to get a tack hammer and inflict physical harm upon you but since you were “just saying”, it’s all good.

The “I’m just saying” phrase is in a long line of ridiculous phrases that are used a lot but upon closer examination make no sense whatsoever.

Another phrase of this sort is, "It is what it is." If you are a really good athlete, whatever pro team drafts you out of college makes you sit in a room for twelve hours one day and learn this phrase. For athletes who can't read a zone blitz or avoid smacking around their girlfriends this is the wonder drug. All mistakes are erased simply by uttering this simple phrase. Here's how it works.

Reporter: "In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter you blew a certain victory by fumbling two snaps, throwing two interceptions and head butting your coach. What happened?"

Athlete: "It is what it is. We've just got to take it one game at a time from here on out."

(Note: Taking it one game at a time is another classic athlete phrase. Is there any other way to take the remainder of your schedule? Has a team ever played the final four games of the season at the same time? I digress.)

Thanks for clearing things up for us with your It Is What It Is Phrase. Your meltdown only looked so bad because I was thinking that it is not what it is. I'm starting to see it a little better now. My bad.

If you are an athlete, or any human being over the age of 7 for that matter, and you feel the phrase "It is what it is" about to come out of your mouth stop yourself quickly and instead, say, "Jabba gooey jabba pringle pepsi funyon American Chopper."

Trust me on this. It just sounds better.