Thursday, November 10, 2011

For the love of the game

As the scandal at Penn State has  unfolded in the national media since Saturday night, the same phrase kept coming to mind.

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Watching the press conference, then Joe Paterno addressing students on his lawn, and the subsequent riots, all we can think of the day after is this passage from Matthew.

Matthew 10:32-38
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’e
 
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

 If you add up all the college football related scandals that have surfaced in the last year alone, one picture is clear, and that is the game, and winning the game, is more important than apparently anything else.  Even the most basic principles we all hold dear and that is protecting children

Seven months ago, on April 4, 2011  Mark Madden wrote the following regarding the Sandusky scandal:

The Jerry Sandusky situation seems a matter of failure to connect certain dots, or perhaps unwillingness in that regard. Lots of people besides the former Penn State defensive coordinator have some explaining to do.
Allegations of improper conduct with an underage male first surfaced in 1998, while Sandusky was still employed by Penn State. That incident allegedly occurred in a shower at Penn State's on-campus football facility. No charges were filed.
Sandusky retired the next year, in 1999. He was 55, prime age for a coach. Odd, to say the least - especially with Joe Paterno thought even then to be ready to quit and Sandusky a likely, openly-discussed successor.
It seems logical to ask: What did Paterno know, and when did he know it? What did Penn State's administration know, and when did they know it?
Best-case scenario: Charges are never brought, and Sandusky walks away with his reputation permanently scarred. The rumors, the jokes, the sideways glances - they won't ever stop. Paterno and Penn State do the great escape.

 But his article doesn't end there.  Instead, he concludes with this question:


Plenty of questions remain yet unanswered. Potentially among them: What's more important, Penn State football or the welfare of a few kids?
You might not want to hear the answer.

We all know the answer now.  Football was more important to a living legend, his coaches, and an institution who memorialized him with a statue and his quote stating he wanted to be remembered for  "making Penn State a better place."

Think of the lives that have been scarred and destroyed because of the love of  a game.  A game.  And the ego, competitive spirit, prestige, big money, and tradition that are all tied into the game.

Be careful what you love. If you love anything more than your God and Maker it will likely be your undoing.  Most people believe that Jesus came to spread peace and love, but reread his words.

I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’e

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

What are you willing to do for love?  We often think of this in the positive, but after the past few days, maybe we should all reconsider the flip side instead.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."