Cheap Championships

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Cheap Championships

Every once in a while a leader has an opportunity to enforce the letter of a law when the spirit for which that law was created is not in jeopardy. In sports, this is often where gamesmanship and sportsmanship collide. The leader can always justify their actions because the letter of the law was violated, even though the enforcement of that law does enormous harm. This was the scene when Mike Knowles, Monrovia (California) HS girl’s track coach, alerted the judges that the successful pole vault of South Pasadena HS star Robin Laird—a vault, incidentally, that had just given SPHS the meet as well as the Rio Hondo League title—should be nullified because Robin had a friendship bracelet on her left wrist. That thin strand of woven strings, he pointed out, was in violation of the rule stating participants can’t wear jewelry. The judges had no choice but to enforce the rule. The euphoria on the side of South Pasadena was immediately turned to shock, tears and anger when they realized that their victory was being voided based on a technicality. You can read the whole story here. The spirit of the “no jewelry” rule is to keep players from injuring themselves or someone else. Most often, it’s metal jewelry that the rule has in mind. In this case, there was no injury. Nor was there any threat of future injury. The vault was over. The meet was over. The outcome was decided. The letter of the law could only serve to give Monrovia a cheap championship by default. And that’s what Coach Knowles got for his team. They got the championship trophy, not for being the best, but by using the fine points of the code to gain what they could not otherwise earn. It wasn’t about protecting Robin from harm, but about winning at any cost. Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). In situations like this, Jesus’ words make it a lot easier to know the right thing to do. But when you worship winning above all else, it sure makes it tough to give Jesus, or His advice, the time of day. ©:Copyright 2010 Family Matters and Dr. Tim Kimmel   {Originally published in 2010}

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