Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Wednesday, July 24, 2019

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…” — Matthew 20:26

What Will You be Remembered For? 

During the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, a swimmer named Ian Crocker was representing the United States. The U.S. swim team that year was dominant and filled with deep talent, thanks in no small part to the emergence of a young 19-year-old star named Michael Phelps.

Crocker had enjoyed a stellar collegiate career at the University of Texas and brought into these Olympics multiple world records and success. He won a bronze medal in one of the men’s relays and took silver in the 100-meter butterfly behind Phelps, with whom he’d had a fierce rivalry over the previous couple of years. That race in particular was quite the showdown as Phelps overtook Crocker at the very end and denied Crocker an individual gold medal by the slimmest of margins.

Typically, the Olympian who places highest in an individual event will automatically be given the corresponding leg of the 4 x 100m medley relay in the final swimming event at the Games. Thus, this honor should’ve belonged to Phelps. But Phelps knew that, in the previous relay, Crocker had been battling an illness and didn’t swim his best race, most likely costing the U.S. a better medal. Phelps decided to defer his spot in the final of the medley relay to Crocker and opted to swim the qualifying heat instead. 

Crocker and the rest of the U.S. men’s team went on to win gold in the event, and while Crocker would go on to compete for a few more years and return to his third Olympics in 2008, he would never reach the level of his previous dominance, thus making his 2004 appearance all the more meaningful. While Phelps would go on to make history in the next three Olympics, Crocker points to Phelps’ gesture as a defining moment in his own career and says that’s what he will best remember Phelps for.

This example brings up a question we must all ask ourselves: What do we want to be remembered for? As an athlete, it would be easy to point to certain plays you made in competition, to records you maybe set or key moments when you came through for your team. But what about anything that happened away from competition? What if others were asked this question about you? Would they say they remember you best for how you gave your life away in service to other people? Would they say they remember you not so much for what you did or said but for you who were? 

Jesus taught that those who desired to be His followers must be servants (Matthew 20:26) and that He Himself set for us the ultimate example of this when He gave His life up for our sakes when we least deserved it (Philippians 2:7). 

Keep this in mind as you compete, as you train, as you lead. The legacy you leave will never be measured in stats, but rather by your character. 

Katherine Singer

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