Thursday, March 12, 2009

To Tell The Truth

We live in a dishonest world and our kids are not immune. In my classes yesterday, I told my students about an incident that happened in a game I coached and let them give their reactions. This is what happened: While I was a high school basketball coach in Tennessee, the board which governs national high school athletics passed a rule aimed at controlling the behavior of coaches. The rule stated that coaches must remain seated during games, not including time outs, with two exceptions:
1. A spontaneous reaction to a play.
2. Calling a time out.
It was difficult for me to adjust to this new restriction, which carried the penalty of a technical foul, as I always stood during games. That year, I had my manager sit behind me, hold on to my shirt/sweater and keep me planted on the bench. One night, we were playing at home against a very good team which had been in the state tournament the year before, a school we had never beaten. With ten seconds to go, we were behind by one point and they were shooting a free throw. I forgot.....and stood up to tell my players what we would do after the shot attempt. One of the referees saw me, came to our bench, and asked, "Coach, did you stand up to call a time out?" He did not want to call a technical which carries with it the punishment of free throws and loss of possession of the ball and would in all likelihood, seal our fate. I told the truth and regretfully, I believe, he gave me a technical. We lost. In the locker room, one of my players, in anger, told me, "If you lied, we would have won!" I was taken back as to me it would have been wrong and cheapened the win. I put the scenario before my current students and asked if I did the right thing. This is what they said:

"I think that you did the right thing in telling the truth, because being honest is the right thing to do. Also, there are other wins and you have to take responsibility for your actions no matter what the situation is. What if you had lied and and said you were calling a time out? That wouldn't have been a good idea even if you did win. If you're a good Christian man who goes by his morals, the situation would eat your conscience."
Talor, grade 10

"You most certainly did the right thing, to a certain extent. You told the truth, but it was an idiotic rule, so you should have just taken the time out. You did the right thing by telling the truth, but your competitive instincts should have kicked in so that you could have won the game."
Tyler, grade 10

"In certain situations, coaches get to the point where they lie to win. Their aggressiveness takes over them. In your case, you handled the situation properly. You took on your own responsibility, even knowing it was determining the outcome of the game for your team. Many coaches never take on their own responsibilities; those coaches are all about winning. In your situation, you showed character. The game is better off played, knowing when and where you messed up during the game, and as a coach, it's better to recognize your coaching error."
Jeannett, grade 10

"I think what you did was noble. However, from the story, it sounded like the ref knew that you didn't want to call a timeout but he didn't want that technical to be the determining factor. I know coaches who would say, "Yes, I am calling a timeout." I think it's good that some coaches still have integrity."
Ben, grade 10

"I think it was right to tell the truth. You may have had the game on the line, but losses make better players. If you would have lied, you wouldn't be able to live with yourself, thinking about it day and night. You have to learn from your mistakes; it allows you to build character. Yes, you did the right thing. You lost the game, but you walked out with your head held high."
Don, grade 8

"If I were you in that situation, I would have probably lied. I'm just being honest. I think you did the right/wrong thing. If you look at it in a umm... basketball winning is everything way, you did the wrong thing. If you look at it in a Christian, holy way, you did the right thing. So I don't know- I'm confused!"
Nandi, grade 8

"Of course, you did the right thing. From a Christian or a coach's perspective. What kind of perspective says that what we think is wrong is right? Whatever religious views you have, right is what you did. Wrong is what your player wanted. Lying is haunting. Lying once to win one game will wear off, but a sin is a sin. Jesus didn't only give you one opportunity to coach a winning game. Life is still going on, right?"
Jordan, grade 8

"You most definitely did the right thing! Lying would have just made you feel really guilty. It would have bugged you that you didn't fairly win. Sooner or later, you would have told someone that you lied. Sure, you might have been angry, but you can be proud that you did the right thing. God looked down upon you and smiled happily."
Katie, grade 8

"In a Christian sense, you did the right thing, but in a basketball sense, you should have lied. The Christian sense weighs more heavily than the basketball sense. Things happen, some good and others bad, but at least the team knows that they have the will to beat a team they thought they couldn't. It's all part of the fun of the game."
Tobe, grade 10

"I think you did the right thing in telling the truth, because even though you probably let your girls down. If you lied, you would have let God down. After you won the game then what? You would be happy you won for a few days, but then you would be left with he guilt that you disappointed the Most High God."
Latreya, grade 10

"I think you should have told the ref you wanted a timeout. When he asked if you stood up to call a timeout, a good reply would be, "I would like to call a timeout." If he asked again why you stood up, then you can't lie about it, even though I probably would have. It's easy to think that God wouldn't mind a little lie in a competitive situation like that. I think you would have had to tell the truth."
Cody, grade 10

"You did the right thing by not lying, even though some people will lie and cheat their way to the top. It wouldn't have meant that much to me if I had lied or cheated because it wasn't something I earned fairly."
Tiffany, grade 10

"I think that you did the right thing. Lying is a sin and there is no grey area. I think as Christians, it is our job to always tell the truth, no matter what the situation is. This was probably a big test and surpassing the temptation was awesome and very hard for you to do. Good Job!"
Amberly, grade 10

"You did the right thing, but you did it at the wrong time. If your team was up or down by 20, you would have done the right thing. You were still in the game and you still had a chance to win by calling the timeout."
Patrick, grade 10

"I think you did the right thing by telling the truth to the ref. Even though your team lost, you want to make a good impression on your team. You don't want to feel guilty or be the one blamed for setting a bad example in front of the students."
Jenni, grade 10

Applicable quote of the day:
"Lying is done with words and also with silence."
Adrienne Rich

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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