What Kind of Fan Are You?

I did not play sports growing up but I married a college quarterback and then had three kids who played Division One golf in college. I now have a greater understanding and appreciation for someone who has God-given athletic ability and chooses to develop it to the point of being able to earn a scholarship and play at a very competitive level in college.

I have come to realize that athletes like Sammie Watkins, Jordan Speith, or Javon Clowney are the exception, not the norm. These three are elite performers who have been able to maximize their talent and garner more praise from the public and success than most. I just have to mention that, for the most part, every collegiate athlete puts in the same hours, gives the same amount of effort, and desires the same success that these three have achieved, but for whatever reason…and there are many…they don’t get it! Not all athletes have such a positive experience.

For all you sports fans out there, let me share a different perspective on athletics.

As Bill and I developed our relationship when we were dating, he began to share with me his experiences as a college athlete. I was shocked to hear the stories of what he endured as a college athlete. For example, Carolina lost to Furman in football one year and Bill’s parents were spit on by Carolina fans. He also endured ridicule by the coaches. At one point a coach stood Bill up in front of the team and said, “Don’t follow Bill. He is not a leader. He was born with a “silver spoon in his mouth!”

Fans never see the cruel comments that can be made by some coaches. Since having three kids to recently play college athletics at Division One schools, I can give firsthand witness, and so can they, to the “verbal abuse” inflicted by some coaches. The name calling and humiliation inflicted on athletes when they don’t perform their best is inexcusable. Bill went through three head coaches in four years, with three offenses, and endured things no college athlete should ever experience.

I could write a book on just his experience alone, not to mention our three kids. Thankfully, Bill and our kids persevered but not without huge scars and lingering emotional pain. Being married to Bill for 26 years now…I have watched him go through many painful memories of those days. It has taken a lifetime of seeking Jesus for the pain and wounds to heal but, at any moment, can resurface by the comments of people…even today.

Thankfully, he has the wisdom and experience to help our kids. All four know Christ who is the “Great Physician.” Trust me, years later people STILL make the most cruel comments! They have no idea….none…of the damage and emotional scars that were inflicted when Bill was a young man! For years after we married…I watched…the pain …and now witness it and experience it firsthand with our children and their friends who play.

At Saturday’s game between Clemson and Carolina…I could hardly enjoy Clemson’s success because of my experience firsthand in our own family. I hurt so for Cole Stout and Dylan Thompson. Sick is a mild word in fact! At times I wanted to throw up. I became so angry at people’s comments that I wanted to strike back! I literally burned with anger.

You see, Cole Stout and Dylan Thompson are young, very young men who work hard every day to perform. They don’t purpose to do a poor job on the field. They put in the same blood, sweat, and tears that everyone else on that field puts in…and for whatever reason…things didn’t turn out the way the fans wanted.

These kids also have parents and family who love them. I can’t for the life of me understand why people…feel they have a right to ridicule and be so cruel…especially those who have never played college athletics nor have a clue as to what it takes! On Sunday morning all I could do was pray for these kids and others. Once I spoke up to someone to defend one of the athletes. The comment to me in return was, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the fire!” My response was, “What right do you think you have to light the match and then pour the gas?”

Our love for Jesus should penetrate every aspect of our lives. I do not see an exception in the Bible for sports fans. Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” If we have something to say, shouldn’t it be focused on bringing encouragement? Healing? Reconciliation? I’m not saying I am perfect at this by any means, but with each passing hole on the Back 9 of life I see the need to live a grace-filled and mercy-filled life. Have we forgotten what Christ has done for us?

Matthew 12:36, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

I encourage you to examine…your emotions…what do you honestly feel are your rights as fans? As coaches? Words….KILL! No one has the “right to kill!” No one! On judgment day WE will all give an account for every idle word spoken….How many of us will be “guilty of murder?”

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  • This may be my favorite Back Nine post to date!!!!! Words come so fast and do so much damage!!!!! Thanks for the reminder to be wise in ALL I say- not just about sports!!!!! Much needed reminder for me!!!!

  • Thank you! A million thank yous for that! Having worked in college athletics and having two D1 playing daughters, the venom on “the other side” is real. I almost went fist-to-cuffs with four men in the Chick-Fil-A defending Cole Stoudt. What gives people the right to say whatever they want about 18-year-old kids?
    I’ve also taken on some “friends” on FB- I’ve asked people to take things down & most have complied, but I’m always left thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I”…