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Sports Parenting

Parenting and sports collide to present to us both great challenges and great opportunities. We have all seen the extremely unfortunate expressions of sports parenting, embodied in soccer moms, tyrant dads, and helicopter parents. But those are just the negative extremes. What about the moms and dads (like the parents of Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer, along with other NASCAR…

Understanding the First Things

In golf, the old saying is that you drive for show but you putt for dough. At the WGC Cadillac Championship in March, this was proven afresh in bold terms. During practice prior to the opening round of the tournament, Tiger Woods recognized that his putting was in trouble and was holding back his opportunities for success. As a result,…

Two-Minute Drill

Last week we discussed the special pressure attached to a fourth and goal situation with the game on the line. Today we examine a somewhat different but, in its own right, equally important pressure-point in a football game—the two-minute drill. As the clock is winding down, the ability to execute on offense becomes more and more intense. Why? Because every second…

Devastating Loss

The NBA playoffs started Saturday, and the Chicago Bulls, while winning their opening game, suffered the most devastating loss of their campaign. With about a minute and a half to go in a game that was pretty much in hand, Derrick Rose, the Bulls’ best player and the reigning NBA MVP, crumpled to the floor with a crushing injury. Rose’s…

A Winning Game Plan

New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick is considered one of the greatest head coaches of his generation, with multiple Super Bowl trophies and, perennially, one of the most dominant teams in the National Football League. He was not always a head coach, however, and the hints of his success at football’s top level were seen clearly in his earlier…

Mixed Emotions

Last Thursday, word began to slip out of the annual baseball winter meetings that a huge free agent signing had taken place. As the day progressed, it became clear that, in fact, two big signings had occurred—both by the Los Angeles Angels. First, arguably baseball’s best player, St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols signed for over $250 million dollars. Then,…

The Power Of Money

This past weekend, the conference carousel continued to spin—perhaps spinning out of control—as founding member of the Big East Syracuse and long-time Big East school Pitt announced that they were abandoning the conference for the ACC. This marks the second time the ACC has raided the Big East, taking a total of five programs away. It was made all the…

Covering The Basics

When I play golf, I find that there is a particular problem that I struggle with on a regular basis. At the beginning of a round, I am very conscious of my setup, my grip,  the position of the ball in my stance, where my elbows are, and a variety of other things that need to be in place for…

Living With Eternity In Mind

In the world of sports, it seems that everything is temporary—and major league baseball teaches us that by the sheer length of the season. This year’s division champion is next year’s also-ran. This week’s fielding hero is next week’s goat, committing an unthinkable error. Today’s untouchable closer blows tomorrow’s save. As the long season drags on and on, what happened…

The Danger Of Compromise

When we think of compromise in sports, it can appear in several forms. It can take the form of laziness—or, put another way, compromising by not giving our very best. Cutting corners in the film room or in the weight room or on the practice field always comes back to haunt you because eventually your performance on the field will…

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Leadership

Today marks the final day of the regular season for Major League Baseball, and some of baseball’s top teams (most notably the reigning World Series champs, the San Francisco Giants) will be heading home after today’s games are finished—missing the playoffs. The Arizona Diamondbacks will not be joining them, however, having won the National League West for the first time…

> Coaching

Modeling and Mentoring

Anyone who coaches youth sports, whether it is little league baseball, rocket football, girls soccer, or a myriad of other activities for kids, is a mentor. Professional athletes sometimes debate whether they are, or should be, role models for young people to look up to—but no such debate exists in the world of youth sports. If you are a coach,…

Death of a Giant

Sunday, the college basketball world was saddened by the news that Dean Smith, former head men’s basketball coach at University of North Carolina, had passed away at the age of 83. Smith’s record with the Tar Heels was nothing less than spectacular. His teams won 2 national championships, 13 ACC tournament championships, and 17 ACC regular season championships on his…

A Winning Game Plan

Welcome to 2015—a new year that will undoubtedly be filled with new opportunities and new challenges.

New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick is considered one of the greatest head coaches of his generation, with multiple Super Bowl trophies and, perennially, one of the most dominant teams in the National Football League. He was not always a head coach, however,…

> College Sports

Don't Give Up

In the hot August sun, not unlike the NFL training camps, college and high school athletes are preparing for fall sports. I spent many a steamy August day in Virginia training for the upcoming soccer season in my second college experience. But, when I was first in college, I ran on the cross country team.

The final event of the…

Getting In Sync

When I was in college, our football team played against Gallaudet—a school for the hearing-impaired in the Washington DC area. It was fascinating to watch, and I wondered how the quarterback would call for the snap at the line of scrimmage. Their plan, however, was for an assistant coach on the sidelines to beat a cadence on a bass drum…

Becoming a Game Changer

It was a dark day for West Virginia football. It was the seventh game of the 2005 season, and the Mountaineers were trailing Louisville 24-7 when starting quarterback Adam Bednarik was injured. In came backup Pat White—and the rest, as they say, was history. White, along with fellow freshman Steve Slaton at running back, led a furious WVU comeback to…

> Competition

> Fellowship of Christian Athletes

> Golf

A Timely Word

In Liverpool, England, on the eve of the 2006 Open Championship (which folks in the States call “The British Open”), professional golfer Graeme McDowell knew his game was in trouble, and that he was going into the tournament clueless about what was causing his struggles on the course. While out for the evening, McDowell got a surprise. A stranger, who…

Point of Vulnerability

As I watched The Open Championship from St. Andrews, Scotland, over the weekend, American Zach Johnson, a former Masters champion, stepped up to his tee shot in the wind and the cold. As the ball took off, it suddenly moved left in a big, swinging hook, prompting analyst Paul Azinger to say, “Every great player will eventually battle with a…

Hallowed Ground

I love golf, which makes it a foregone conclusion that I also love The Open Championship (aka the British Open). And, I especially love it when the Open is contested at St. Andrews in Scotland, as it will be beginning tomorrow. Even without the injured world #1 Rory McIlroy, it will be a great event just because of its legendary…

> Major League Baseball

Utterly Reliable

I was watching a baseball game on TV when the announcers started talking about a young outfielder who had just been called up from the minors. Inexperienced, lots to learn, struggling to figure out big league pitching and all, the young man had one quality that was unaffected by any of those circumstances. He is fast. The announcer rightly said,…

A Steady Hand

One of the most respected managers in the Major League Baseball is LA Angels’ skipper, Mike Scioscia. As a player, Mike was a long-time Dodger catcher, and worked in the Dodger system before taking the helm in Anaheim before the 2000 season. In the years since, the Angels have had a level of success unlike anything ever seen in the…

Getting Down To Business

As the new college and pro football seasons are still weeks away, the Major League Baseball season is now getting serious. All of the games throughout the year may count the same in the standings, but this is the time of year when losses seem to hurt that little bit extra, and wins seem to be so much greater. With…

> National Basketball Association

Pioneers and Pioneering

Last Friday, I was saddened to hear of the death of Earl Lloyd. While not as widely known as Jackie Robinson in baseball, Lloyd was a pioneer in his own right—becoming the first African American player to play a game in the National Basketball Association. ESPN.com reported that Lloyd made history in 1950 by appearing in a game for the…

Spiritual Gifts

Any number of things contribute to how far a person may go in their chosen sport. Certainly among those things are opportunity, resources, and coaching. Some young baseball players may have had  the opportunity to grow up in a warmer climate where they could play year round, honing their craft and developing their understanding of the game. Some young gymnasts…

Getting It Together    

For the people of Cleveland, “The Return of the King” was not just the name of the final movie in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It was the return of LeBron James to the ranks of their beloved Cavaliers. In spite of the lofty expectations his return brought to their season, the Cavs began the season as a very…

> National Football League

Crushed Dreams

We are now deep into NFL training camps, and exhibition games have begun. Between the heat, the physical strain, the classroom work, and the pressure to perform, this is a pretty harsh time. One of the really tough things about this time in training camp, however, is “the Turk.” Over the years, a training camp visit from “the Turk” would…

Making A Comeback

Athletes strive for excellence, often wanting to reap the harvest of achievement awards given for outstanding performance. Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award winner, Hart Memorial Trophy—no matter what the sport, these awards are cherished and sought after as a kind of validation for a great season, or career. There is one award, however, that no…

Back To Work

NFL training camps open this week (for some teams, rookies have already reported), and these weeks of workouts in the summer heat will prepare players and teams for the heat of battle in the season to come. In addition to conditioning and learning new plays and schemes, the training camp will also see teams cutting down their rosters to the…

> National Hockey League

Keeping Control

We’ve all seen it—an NBA forward takes a hard foul, and gets up swinging his fists. A pitcher throws at a hitter’s head, and both benches clear. Hockey players drop their gloves and start going at each other. The intensity of emotions that are stirred in the midst of competition are at the same time part of what makes sports…

Every Game Counts

With both the NBA and the NHL playoffs moving toward their respective conclusions, it is a good time to be reminded of how spectacular game sevens can be. The same thing will be true this fall when Major League Baseball hits its own postseason stride. A game seven is one of the best moments in sports. Two teams have fought…

A Better Way

We’ve all seen it—an NBA forward takes a hard foul and gets up swinging his fists. A pitcher throws at a hitter’s head, and both benches clear. Hockey players drop their gloves and start going at each other. The intensity of emotions that are stirred in the midst of competition are at the same time part of what makes sports…

> Olympics

The Right People

Two weeks ago, the National Football League held its annual draft—and ever since there has been plenty of analysis, criticism, and argument about who was selected, who selected them, why they selected them, and whether it will turn out to be a wise choice or a wasted pick. Every team—and their fans—are concerned that they get the right people in order…

Don’t Quit

In the award-winning film “Chariots of Fire,” one of the characters chronicled (alongside Scottish sprinter and missionary to China, Eric Liddell) is legendary British sprinter Harold Abrahams. Abrahams is obsessed with winning, but in a preliminary 100 meter dash leading up to the 1924 Olympics, he is soundly beaten by his rival, Liddell. His response is deep despair. When his…

Getting into the Race

In the award-winning film Chariots of Fire, one of the characters chronicled (alongside Scottish sprinter and missionary to China, Eric Liddell) is legendary British sprinter Harold Abrahams. Abrahams is obsessed with winning, but in a preliminary 100-meter dash leading up to the 1924 Olympics, he is soundly beaten by his rival, Liddell. His response is deep despair. When his girlfriend,…

> Paralympics 2008

Blessings Out of Disappointments

Today on Sports Spectrum, we hear Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Matt Capps talk about his disappointment, as a minor leaguer, when he was shifted from his dream of being a starting pitcher to a new and unwelcome role in the bullpen. His initial disappointment, however, became a terrific gift, as this shift rapidly accelerated his climb from the minors to…

Sports Spectrum Week In Review – Audio Blog

Detroit and St. Louis welcome the men’s and women’s Final 4…John Calipari takes over at Kentucky and Jay Cutler bids farewell to Denver.

Climbing the Mountain

It isn’t that they don’t try hard enough, or that they are less committed than No. 1 seeds. It’s just too big of a mountain to climb.

> Racing

Honoring the Boundaries

In NASCAR garage areas, it is not uncommon to hear comments like, “If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying” and “It’s our job to cheat and it’s their (NASCAR’s) job to catch us.” Each weekend that NASCAR’s top series heads to a speedway, we are reminded why it is so tempting to flirt with gray areas, or to straight out…

The Long Wait

The opening weekend of this year's NASCAR season, on February 21st, superstar driver Kyle Busch was involved in a horrific accident at Daytona that resulted in a broken right leg and a broken left foot. Following multiple surgeries and extended rehab, Busch is anxiously anticipating his return to the track and the sport he loves. But that return will not…

True Source

That giant roar you may have heard coming from the southeastern part of the United States this week was the firing up of the engines of NASCAR teams as they begin preparation for next Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited and the following week’s Daytona 500.

NASCAR (like any other big league sport) is packed with pressure to perform and to succeed—because…

> Rugby

Invictus          

I love sports, and I love sports movies (“Remember the Titans,” “Miracle,” “The Natural,” “We Are Marshall” to name a few), so I was excited to grab the DVD of “Invictus” and watch it again.

The movie shows some of the struggle in South Africa to overcome apartheid, and the role sport played in helping the nation heal the wounds…

Anxious Moments

This past Sunday night, I was in Melbourne, Australia, where I had been doing some Bible teaching. That night, the New Zealand All Blacks played against France in the finals of the Rugby World Cup—the most significant rugby competition in the world. What spiced up the evening even more was that several of us watched the match on TV with…

Many Ways, One Way

Last year I was with my wife, Marlene, in Dublin Ireland where we had an RBC Bible conference. As Marlene and I explored the city a little bit, I noticed something that got me thinking—it was a shop for football gear. Not American football, but world football (soccer). Not far from there was another shop featuring rugby gear which is…

> Soccer

Anticipation

This is the time of year when football fans are waiting anxiously to hear those fabulous words, “Are you ready for some football?” I know I am, and for me, it has already started with the beginning of the English Premier League season.

Ever since the season ended in May, the anticipation has been building, especially for my Liverpool Reds—with…

Familiar Face In A Different Place

As a fierce supporter of Liverpool Football Club, I have to say that I cannot get used to seeing Steven Gerrard in a LA Galaxy shirt. Stevie G. spent 17 years with Liverpool, and had grown up as a boy in their academy program. He spent 12 years as the Reds’ captain and led them to victorious campaigns in the…

Getting Ready

In Major League Baseball, we have the Grapefruit League and Cactus League. In the NFL, we have the exhibition season. In the English Premier League, it is all about “pre-season friendlies.” These exhibition matches perform a couple of purposes. For my side, Liverpool Football Club, it means connecting with portions of a worldwide fan base that makes them one of…

> Sports Camps

> Sports Talk

Starting Fresh

One of the things that makes football so tough is that when you fail and lose, you usually have to wait an entire week before you can try and make it right. This is where baseball players, I think, have a bit of an emotional advantage. Since they play almost every day, they usually have an immediate opportunity to turn…

Courage and Fear

In the realm of sports, we often hear courage discussed and applied to athletes in high-pressure game situations. But I wonder about that. Is that really the best way to think about those things? Courage, it would seem, should be reserved for soldiers on the frontlines, firefighters entering a burning building, or police officers facing a potentially deadly standoff with…

Winning at All Costs

In recent years, we have seen a steady stream of sports scandals—all of which seem to point to one thing—the preeminence of winning. It led to recruiting scandals in college football, “video-gate” scandals in the NFL, steroid and PED scandals in baseball, and on and on it goes. Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn't everything; it's…

> Tennis

A Matter Of Love

I once wrote an article for Our Daily Bread in which I mentioned seeing a young woman wearing a t-shirt which read, “Love is for losers.” I wrote about what a sad worldview that is, and how vital love is. It was a pretty decent article, I thought. Imagine my surprise, however, when I received a note from a Mom who…

Unhappy Endings

We are now well into the Wimbledon tennis championships in England, and the field has already been whittled down by the early rounds of the competition. In those early rounds, we have also seen upsets where highly ranked players—players who no doubt arrived in London with a genuine sense that they could win—have been sent packing by largely unknown players…

A Matter of Love

Some time ago I wrote an article for Our Daily Bread in which I mentioned seeing a young woman wearing a t-shirt which read, “Love is for losers.” I wrote about what a sad worldview that is and about how vital love is. It was a pretty decent article, I thought.

Imagine my surprise, however, when I received a note from…