Friday, January 11, 2013

No Holds: Barred!

The country is straining under the outbreak of flu. Several years ago, as a safety precaution against swine flu, high school activities were curtailed in several states, including Texas. The following devotional entry is about a similar reaction on a much smaller scale in Minnesota several years ago. It is from February 1, 2007.

Weather has wreaked havoc on our Westbury Christian School soccer teams. Continual rain the past weeks have rendered practices and games practically obsolete. As our boys' and girls' squads wind down their regular seasons, makeup days are difficult to find. State tournament dates are mandated by the governing athletic association so matches must be completed quickly. That's one thing I don't miss about coaching high school baseball; factoring weather forecasts into every decision concerning my team. Indoor sports are much less likely to be cancelled due to atmospheric conditions. As a player, I can't remember having a high school basketball game postponed and there was only one such instance in my college career. Not all athletic postponements are weather-related. Minnesota is facing a crisis in its high school wrestling programs from an unlikely, at least to the non-fan, source. In the past two months, an outbreak of herpes among grapplers in the Land Of 10,000 Lakes has prompted the Minnesota State High School League to impose a moratorium on all matches and contact practices. Hopefully, the quarantine will put a halt to the spread of herpes in time to provide a healthy environment for the state meet, which kicks off in the last week of February. What a shame if an athlete lost the chance to compete on an elite level due to an infection picked up from a stranger at a tournament. The coaches seem in favor of the ban. This strain of herpes can remain in the system for an undetermined time and potentially cause blindness in the infected party. I've seen my share of athletes knocked out of competitions before but wrestling-transmitted herpes is a new one on me. Let's hope they can isolate the incidents and allow those kids the chance to pursue their ultimate high school dream, to have the gold medal as the best wrestler in their weight class draped around their necks. Unlike professionals, high school athletes can't come out of retirement.

In my tenth grade Bible classes today, we discussed the very short parable Jesus told in Luke 13:20-21. In this one sentence story lesson, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to yeast that a woman mixed into dough. Most of the kids don't know anything about cooking but they are aware that just a tiny amount of yeast spreads through the whole batch of dough. Although I am no medical specialist, I asked how many wrestlers were responsible for the Minnesota herpes epidemic. My students' answer was one. High school wrestling is organized around tournaments where a number of schools gather for matches. One wrestler infects another who then wrestles the next week at a different tournament with a number of other schools, By doing just a little math, it's easy to see a quickly it could spread. I asked my sophomores how many other students a so-called bad kid (using their term) could infect in a school setting. The consensus was twenty, easily. I asked if their parents forbade them from being around certain other youngsters and invariably they answered in the affirmative. I flipped the question, asking if a good kid could possibly infect others with their goodness and they agreed with that as well. The self-evaluation can be boiled down to this: which influence camp is my tent pitched in? These teens know the truth of Jesus' teaching first-hand, that influence, like yeast, is infectious. Unfortunately, so is herpes.

Applicable quote of the day:
"A disease in one country is a threat to another, ... the best chance to eradicate or contain a new infectious disease is when it emerges."
Henk Bekedam

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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1 comment:

Warren Baldwin said...

Good illustrative and good use of the "teachable moment."