Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Basketball Program Teaches More Than Just Basketball

Paul the Apostle encourages us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” So in essence what he is saying is, if we desire to walk within the will of God we must also walk with a gait of gratitude. The flip side of this is entitlement. For entitlement is the antonym to thankfulness. Basically, it’s impossible to meander through the maze of life with an entitled heart and be walking in God’s will for our life at the same time. This is a battle, to live each day lathered in gratitude.

Everything in our world grips us with instant gratification. Netflix binging, Amazon overnight, iTunes one click, drive thru windows, and Google doing our homework. This instant access and entitlement has crept into every crevice of our culture, including the world of sports. There is no longer a sense of others. Perhaps Jesus encouraged to love others as ourselves because He knew we would never have a problem loving ourselves.

What is the solution in eradicating this monster of entitlement that has been created by society and has creeped into the sports world? Perhaps helping one see all they have to be thankful for. And this is precisely what Link Year Hoops is attempting to do. Link Year Hoops is a post grad basketball program located in Hillbilly Vegas, also known as Branson, Missouri. Link year recruits several of these entitled basketball players, and in 9 months attempts to remove ungratefulnness and replace it with thankfulness.

One of the ways they do this is by taking their players to Eleuthera, Bahamas. Be careful thinking Eleuthera is anything like Nassau which boasts of its Atlantis resort. Eleuthera is the other side of the post card. No indoor gyms, black top courts with potholes greater than the twin city freeways, and shanty huts with concrete floors. Yet, none of their aspiring basketball players complain of their conditions.

When Link Year players begin running clinics and camps for the players in Eleuthera and are able to see up close and personal how poor and less privileged they are, the scales of entitlement begin to shed. The primadonna mindset begins to shift.

This past February, Link Hoops spent 2 weeks in Eleuthera doing manual labor and running basketball clincs. For many of our players this is the first time any of them have every done manual labor. The blisters on their hands from shoveling wet concrete all day was a sweet reminder of the sacrifices others have made to give them the opportunities they’ve been given.

Link Hoops hosted the first annual Eleuthera Island Jam comprised of 6 teams from different settlements from all over the island. These 6 teams weren’t competing for contracts or notoriety. They were compteing for the very thing youth sports in America has lost; pride and bragging rights. They were competing because they love the game of basketball. They played through nicks and small injuries, took charges on outdoor concrete, and refrained from blaming the officiating for their shortcomings.

Great day! The Lions helped host the 1st Annual EIJ! #RepTheLion? #ElevateTheQuo

A post shared by Link Year Lions (@linkhoops) on

When the Link Hoops players witnessed this tournament, faith and sports collided in a way they never expected. They began to realize basketball is a gift, living in America is a gift, and the opportunities they have are a gift. And a gift is something that is given, not earned or owed to. They realized they did absolutely nothing to be born into the family or country they were born into.

It was a gift

A gift from who though? The One who’s will is that we walk in thankfulness and not entitlement. Perhaps the worst thing we can do for young athletes is to send them off into the world with a compass that points to themselves, and the best thing we can do for them is to send them off into the world with God’s Word as their compass pointing everything back to Him!

-Adam Donyes, President/Founder: Link Year

To learn about Link Year, check out their website.