Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional – Friday, September 8, 2017

Little League Baseball in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo Courtesy: Maryland GovPics (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV)

Love your enemies

Sports are full of life-lessons. Losing with dignity, winning with humility, competing with integrity, caring for teammates, and giving your best effort are just a few things that can be learning playing any sport.

One lesson that we do not teach as much in sports is to “love your enemy.” Sure, we talk about sportsmanship. We shake hands after the game, play fair, and we may even help someone up take a knee if the other team has an injury. But especially with children, we get so caught up in the element of competition that we lose our love for our neighbor just because they are wearing a different uniform.

Thankfully, as coaches and parents we sometimes get the opportunity to learn from our children. In a recent Little League World Series game, a group of players from Venezuela showed us all how to care for our pairs regardless of the color of their shirt.

After an exciting walk-off win against the Dominican Republic, the Venezuelan team took a break from celebrating to console the opposing pitcher that gave up the winning hit.

Obviously devastated by the loss after having such a strong showing at the tournament, Edward Uceta walked away from the handshake line with his head down and tears rolling down his face. First, the coaches from Venezuela approached him and offered hugs of condolence. But then the big moment came when Venezuelan star Omar Romero, who had the game winning hit, walked over and gave Uceta a hug that will be featured on LLWS advertising for years to come.

In that moment, Uceta was not a rival, an enemy, or even an opponent. He was a peer in desperate need of encouragement. Romero set an example that all of us should follow. Yes, we should give our best effort between the lines and try to help our team find a victory. But we also need to realize that the game is such a small part of our lives and that our purpose here is so much greater.

– Jamie Boggs, Sports Spectrum reader

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