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 (P. Diddy, Diddy) with 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 like Jesus tells him to.
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 play and 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.”
Sometimes being a dad can really be painful.
“Yeah, but dad, at least the Georgia Bulldogs are better than Georgia Tech.”
I can live with that.
Originally posted on January 24, 2011