“I have been young and now am old….” May the biblical poet forgive me for mercilessly ripping his line from its context, but that is my starting place. I need a license for what I am about to propose.
For over 25 years I have observed with great delight the evolution of athletics at DCS. I have seen volleyball played on the school parking lot, varsity basketball practice held in the “commons,” and soccer played on turf unsafe for livestock. We have struggled through seasons led by coaches whose primary expertise was a deep care for the students and a determination not to let them down.
We stand on the shoulders of student-athletes who endured humiliating losses, hand-me-down uniforms, lack of students available to complete a team, and coaching turnover. Our heritage is rich with determination, dedication and sacrifice. Thank you all.
My age and exposure to DCS sports may be enough, but I pile on the fact that I observed this history from the vantage point of teacher, athletic director, varsity basketball, soccer, volleyball coach, parent, grandparent and FAN. There may not be a fan alive that has experience the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” as often as I.
What I have seen…
We have in our stands some of the grandest fans around. They are positive in their interaction with players, coaches, officials, and other fans. They bring class to the experience, and respect for the name that we bear. To them I say, “Keep it up!”
We have students whose enthusiasm for their mates is loud, relentless, head scratching, colorful, creative, and obnoxious. To them I say, “Ramp it up!”
In a recent contest which ended in a resounding defeat, one lone player separated from his disappointed teammates to go to the opposing bench and congratulate the team on their victory. On another occasion a player, caught up in a bodies-flying collision, stoops to help an opponent up from the floor. And often a team postpones celebration long enough to invite a opposing team to join in prayer after a major victory. To them I say, “Pick it up!”
Two old coaches who have been rivals for more campaigns than either will admit, embrace and share updates of families, athletes, and schools. To them I say, “Love it up!”
A basketball official petitions the athletic director for the privilege of doing games at DCS, since the atmosphere was so enjoyable, and the people so hospitable, (free sandwich and drink!) and, oh yes, he had contact with a group of officials who wanted to be assigned as well. To them I say, “Sign us up!”
The list could go on, but there is this…”I have seen” a referee retreat to the gym following a middle school game with an irate DCS mother in pursuit, asking to be escorted to the AD office. In a later conversation she advised that she would not be doing our games again.
And this…officials stop a basketball game and ask the coach to subdue a negative fan so the game can go on, and that, at an away game. To those fans I say, (I can’t go there in writing.)
What I know…
We ask our students to do the nearly impossible task of playing a sport at a high level of intensity, enthusiasm, and under enormous pressure from opponents, coaches, and fan expectation. They are called upon to wear the name and reputation of Jesus Christ boldly and accurately. We expect them to regard the contest as a learning experience where their testimonies are tested and displayed for all to see.
It is an edgy proposition. Within milliseconds an action or, reaction, can seriously tarnish the name of Jesus, or, enhance his reputation for all to observe. That is the way it ought to be and the way life is done.
I simply ask this, that the fans help the players in this gargantuan endeavor. Criticism is contagious, and so is encouragement. The choice is yours.
I also know…officials make bad calls. Fans don’t change calls. (Don’t ask me how I know this, but one year while coaching BB a group of students gave me a referee shirt with the words, “Bench Referee” on the back. Just sayin’.) Injustice is part of life. Change it when you can. Accept it when you can’t. That is also, how life is done.
Officials miss calls. Really. Four to six eyes in a flurry of 12 bodies in a forty-by-forty area don’t compare with the hundreds of eyes from the vantage point of the stands.
Officials generally don’t lose games. Red Auerbach once said, “The problem with referees is that they don’t care who wins.” When a referee “loses a game,” it is headline news because it is so rare. Turnovers lose games. Serving errors lose games. Defensive lapses lose games. A litany of team, coach and player malfunctions lose games. Officials don’t care.
And I know this…parents and grandparents are not objective observers. Acknowledge the fact. Embrace the fact. Rather than become a loud voice decrying injustice committed against our genes, and their teammates, we must channel that volume and energy to encourage, build up, and energize “junior.”
The future of DCS sports is exciting. As a fan of your student, and teacher at DCS, I would like to see DCS become the epitome of athletic excellence. I would also like to see DCS become the epitome of fan excellence, an achievement acquired by raucously loud cheering, promoting the players, and elevating the name of Christ.
Final word…by writing this, I have become a target. I know. That is where I live life. Your students see my strengths and failures, and watch for them. They also see yours. Not only are the players on display, so are we. Let’s not disappoint. Advance the name. Enhance the name. But let’s never disgrace the name.
Blessings All, and Go Big Red!