Monday, October 20, 2014

Grace In Black And Gold

Big time sports are filled with things that make you want to vomit and high school programs are not immune. Still, there are glimpses of how it should be. This entry, from November 10, 2010, is about one of those peeks.

I grew up in Nebraska which almost assures that any such child will be a fan of the Cornhuskers, the only team in the state most people care for. As such, I also grew to despise, not rationally, of course, other state universities whose football squads played the Huskers. Enemy # 1 was always Oklahoma. A close second many years would have been the University of Colorado. There seemed to be an intensity to the rivalry with the Buffalo fans who could not stand anything having to do with our beloved Big Red. I am positive Nebraska fans without exception handled themselves with dignity but I recall stories of snowballs pelting those from my state. Like I said, I'm sure Husker enthusiasts were blameless in these incidents. Living outside Nebraska since my college days, my fervor has waned and with it the animosity which sometimes accompanies sport loyalties. Still, childhood feelings can linger near the surface.

This week, one of the big college football stories centered in Boulder, the home of CU. Yesterday, the football coach of the Buffaloes, Dan Hawkins, was fired. Hired five years ago from upstart Boise State and considered a tremendous catch, Hawkins simply failed to win enough in this age of conference hopping and big money television deals. His fate was apparently sealed when the Buffs blew a 28 point fourth quarter advantage to Kansas last Saturday, the largest loss of a lead in the history of the school. Yesterday, a press conference made it official. Coach Hawkins appeared and spoke graciously about his termination, thanking the people of the state and asking them to support the program. He even wore a black and gold tie, representing the school colors. Then, the team captains addressed the media. One of the captains was Cody Hawkins, the team's quarterback and the son of the newly deposed coach. I asked my students how they would have handled themselves if they had been in Cody Hawkins' cleats. There were a wide variety of answers as you might expect. Think of the anguish of the conflict between your team- and every team preaches loyalty- and your own flesh and blood. As coaches, we tell our players that your team is your family. So, what does that make your family? When given the microphone, these were the words that came from the younger Hawkins:

“College football is a business, and there are a lot of great guys in this business who get put out on the streets. I have the greatest dad in the world. He handled things very well. Dad gave everything that he had every day. When I signed a national letter of intent, nowhere on the contract did it say I was going to play for Dan Hawkins. I wanted to be part of Colorado. I’m going to give every single thing that I have to this football team. Inside my chest, I have a black and gold heart.”

Wow. With the chance to vent and display the hurt he must be feeling, Cody Hawkins responded with pure graciousness. His parents have to be filled with pride today as they see the son they raised perform admirably in an arena filled with more potential pitfalls than any hostile stadium possesses. In Colossians 4:6, Paul admonishes his readers to, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." I don't know if Cody Hawkins read Paul's advice before he went on stage but he was a blueprint for its implementation. On November 20, Colorado will celebrate Senior Day when the parents typically escort their sons who will be playing their last home game onto the field. I don't think there will be much doubt where most eyes will be trained that afternoon. It will be the kind of sports' moment which makes for such great drama as the story lines fall outside the yard markers. But this drama will really only be the second act. One Colorado senior already had his day... and graduated with honors.

Applicable quote of the day:
“Coaching isn't a great mystery. It's Just hard work, determination, and inspiration at the right moment.”
Bob Zuppke

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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1 comment:

Charie Ca said...

eh..thank you..for the post.