Monday, January 26, 2009

When Winning Becomes a Form of Losing

Recently, a basketball game between two small Christian private girls' schools gained national attention in the US. The winning school, Covenant School of Dallas is seeking to nullify its 100-0 win over Dallas Academy. Covenant has gone beyond this step to sack their basketball team coach and issue an apology to Dallas Academy for the unsportsmanlike behaviour displayed during the infamous game. The school published an official apology on its website, and the statement below is notable.
This clearly does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition. We humbly apologize for our actions and seek the forgiveness of Dallas Academy, TAPPS and our community. The school and its representatives in no way support or condone the running up of a score against any team in any sport for any reason.
During the game, the girls from Covenant apparently went beyond the purpose of winning and let the game become one of humiliation and embarassment to their opponents instead. On top of that, Dallas Academy is no ordinary school. They specifically open their doors to students with learning disabilities. Hence, given the circumstances, any basketball game with them ought to be tempered with generous mercy and grace, rather than furious competitive behaviour that not only shame the opponent but embarasses the school they represent. It is like trying to continue boxing even when the opponent is down. Take soccer for example. Frequently, when one of the opposing team members are lying flat out on the field, players of either team will kick the ball out of play so that the injured player can be cared for.

Sometimes I feel that society in general, from schools to competitive sports have tend to over-emphasize performance and competition to the detriment of learning and compassion. The ethics of winning needs to be taught and inculcated into young minds. As one trains to be a competent sportsman, it is equally important to practice compassion and mercy. After-all, winning is not everything, but everything needs winning grace. Human dignity must be upheld whether one is on the winning or losing team. In the example of Covenant, I applaud the school leadership for taking the initiative to seek forgiveness and use this as an example that should not be repeated. As for Dallas Academy, by losing this embarassing game, they were rewarded with an invitation to watch the Dallas Mavericks from his suite! Amazing.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." (Matt 5:7)


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