Super Bowl message

Thursday, February 8, 2007

From past editorials I've written about watching World Cup soccer and the Olympics, you probably already know that I watch sports a little differently than most. Much to the irritation of the boys in my household, I'm one of those viewers who loves to comment on the more obscure aspects of whatever sport I'm watching.

For example during the recent New England Patriots/San Diego Chargers game, I wondered outloud why the New England Patriots' coach was wearing such an ugly grey sweatshirt with ragged sleeves and why the Chargers' symbol on the field looked more like the feather in a old-fashioned quill pen. I've also been known to obsess over uniform colors and the length of an athlete's hair.

I'm also one of those individuals who loves to hear the personal stories behind the athletes and coaches. Imagine my delight when I began reading about Tony Dungy, coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and Lovie Smith, coach of the Chicago Bears. Not only were these two men making Super Bowl history because of their race but they were breaking new ground because they were both men of strong faith.

I have now read a number of articles about both coaches and couldn't be more impressed with their character, their values and the way they approach winning. In a society where big name athletes often behave badly while receiving supersized paychecks, Dungy and Smith stand in opposition to those negative influences. These two men are the type of role models we hope all young people emulate.

After being presented with the Super Bowl trophy, Dungy had these words to say: "I'm proud to be the first African-American coach to win this. But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that."

As I type in those words, I once again feel chills running down my spine just as I did when I heard Dungy interviewed on Sunday night. "Winning the Lord's way" - what an incredibly hopeful message to send out to the millions of viewers tuned into the Super Bowl.

What does it mean to win the Lord's way? After reflecting on that question and reading more about Dungy's life experiences and his Christian faith, I believe I understand the concept.

Winning the Lord's way means putting faith in God first, before family, before your job, and in Dungy's case, before football. In your own life, you can substitute anything you're passionate about in the place of football.

Winning the Lord's way means standing up for what's right, upholding moral values and leading by example. In interviews with members of the Colts' team, it was obvious these football players had incredible respect for their coach. This respect was earned not demanded.

Winning the Lord's way means living a life of integrity, forgiveness and service to others. It means pursuing a life that is pleasing to God, a life where we stop holding tightly to the trappings of worldly success and instead embrace God's more humble plan for our lives.

Winning the Lord's way is something I'm still aspiring to. When I read about men like Tony Dungy, who are able to survive the death of a son and still proclaim God's goodness, I am inspired to continue my journey. It's a journey we can all share, and a life-long adventure that promises to produce true peace, joy and satisfaction in our lives.