Ok, Who Brought the Jerk?!   Leave a comment

Church sports. Soooo confusing. I admit, I carry quite a few feelings of guilt just from playing church volleyball.

When you attend a “church” sport, what exactly is the objective? Let me throw out a few thoughts that might be helpful in figuring this out.

A church is a place that SHOULD be completely accepting of people. It should be a judgement free area while not compromising moral standards. Loving each other is a must, not an option.

But when sports are introduced…

From my perspective: How do you play your best but not expect the best out of others. How do you try to play hard but not really care if you win?

You see, that is the attitude you kind of have to take. As a competitive guy I attack all sports with intensity. I want to do my best. I attach winning to my intensity otherwise I don’t have much of a reason to do my best. I am trying to contribute to the highest degree possible. But, what to do with my team mates that are not good or don’t really care?

I honestly think that I am the one who has to give. Not them.

We set up a weekly volleyball night years ago. There were a few people who came to play because they wanted something fun to do with the group of people we had. And there were some poeple who came who wanted to play volleyball and win. Those people, the wannabewinners, ruined it for the others. I was one of the wannabees.

You are going to hate me after reading this next part…

There was this one girl who came. And she usually brought food. And she was terrible at volleyball. When she played she always hit the ball overhand. I know I know! Terrible right?! Sheesh, how crazy can a girl be? So we would tell her, “Keep your arms down, and bump the ball upwards so it will go up and over, or one of your team mates can get to it if they need to”. The ball would come to her and she would pound it sideways into a wall or at the floor or into the shoulder of the person next to her. Yeah I know what you are thinking right about now… John, how did you manage to keep your calm? You are obviously a martyr to have put up with this kind of insanity! Yeah, i’m pretty much a saint.

Nope. I am not a saint.

I told her again- keep your arms down and bump it upwards.

Then, as she kept pounding the ball out of play, I started to not disguise my look of disgust with her. Then wouldn’t look at her.

You know what she needed? A little practice. That was all. She did practice, and got better, and then didn’t want to play with us. I don’t blame her.

So again I ask, in regards to church sports; what is your objective?

I sometimes forget that I really love sports of ANY kind. Seriously. And I love hanging out with people. Isn’t that enough?

4 years ago, at the age of 33, I decided to take up hockey for the first time. I was the worst player there every time I showed up to play. I play now on an upper level roller team and I am still the worst player. I have gotten way better, but when it comes down to do or die I am not the one that is out on the floor in the last minutes of the game.

There are a couple of guys who accepted me as I was and worked with me and encouraged me. And there were 15 other guys who were audibly disgusted with me. If I gave up and succombed to the embarrassment I would not be playing now. I adore hockey. I love everything about it. I am built for hockey. I am very grateful to Joe, and Fitzy, and M. Smitty, and Brennan for their help.

I think that it is far more important to preserve the happiness of individuals when they just want to be there. They just want to play and be a part of the group, to contribute and be of value in some way. It is a heartbreaking thing to let the score of a game that will never matter get in the way of that person’s feelings.

I learned a lot from that girl. I hurt her feelings badly. I know this because she told me. I worked hard to restore my credibility with her and to encourage her. But ultimately she decided it wasn’t worth coming. I give her credit for showing up and playing all while knowing she could barely play.

If you need to compete, join a competitive league. If you want to socialize within the context of a sport, join a church sport.

I happen to know now, years later, that it is possible for me to try my hardest and dive to save a ball going out of bounds, only to have my team mate pound it out of play and then giggle about it, and still enjoy all of it. It just doesn’t matter. 

Church sports are about: volleyball at sunset (and missing the ball cuz you were watching the deer in the field nearby); bonfires; playing alongside the people who never got to play in school; hanging out afterwards, before, and during. They are about laughing, not disgusted looks.

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Posted May 16, 2012 by john b in philosofickle

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