Concept of God through Sports

I don’t have to look further than my athletic experience or other people participating in sports to help me understand bigger life conundrums or know that a “higher power” does exist. I know there to be a God/Gods/God-like-force in the universe and functioning this planet because of the miracles I’ve witness in watching sports and playing sports. As athletes, we are like living physics problems; we are also like artists. But, sometimes when art and science can’t fill that gap, we have to turn to something else. Thus, I found myself transfixed at times seeing or feeling the presence of God in what I was doing or watching in rarefied moments, because it was unexplainable without such. You could make the argument that “science just hasn’t come far enough yet.” But, we will never be able to explain our existence as it is, purpose, and all the questions that start with why.

My concept of God isn’t associated with any one religion, but more so a collection of many religions. God is availed everywhere as like an energy in the atmosphere, especially in times when science or probability leave us stupefied. For example: when that hockey, basketball, lacrosse, or billiard ball player makes a miraculous shot, that can’t be duplicated because of the perfect alignment of “the planets” if you will, to allow for that triumph for that team or person in that very moment, while simultaneously creating joy in others watching; and the associated pain for the opposition, to learn from that experience. Giving them the chance to bounce back and appreciate their next win or success (moral victory) more deeply. That has to be something greater than coincidence or luck or misfortune depending on which side of the equation you are on. People often time wonder why a God, would focus on sports. 1) I don’t think it is right to personify God; but 2) why wouldn’t God work in sports as with the rest of life since it is a part of life just the same; also 3) There is so much attention in the sports world, if God were to want to send a message, why wouldn’t “he/she/it” want to express their powers there? But again, God is something else that’s everywhere, all the time, drawing on our energy as we get it back from that energy.

God is that presence when two cars collide, but no one is injured, because of the occurrence as it unfolded allowed one or both people to defy the odds of incurring pain. God was there when the vehicles were being designed to be safer. There is video of a person being perfectly spit out of his car as it rolled over, landing him on his feet, with pure bewilderment on his face, as his car went on to get thrashed. (Wish I could find it to link it. But this is good enough.) God is that presence which allows a surgeon to have the focus, skill, and ingenuity to combine correctly to help save a life in the most delicate or intricate of situations. Or,  it’s where the Internal Medicine doctor that has been sleep deprived, is still able to go through the memory bank and combine that knowledge with a unique perspective to allow them to treat a ailing patient, ailing from a little known problem, as glorified in the television show House.

Sadly, car accidents, or when other less than fortunate events take place that have a tragic outcome also leave us questioning the presence or existence of God. “Why me?” we wonder with pain and agony. And I don’t know!

Even when I fail in the future, or when I have failed in the past; or experience other unfortunate occurrences, I know I have to remain steadfast in my work ethic, while hopeful, as I keep trying to create a time when things materialize as I dreamed them. If and when it happens, it is bigger than me or you, the individual, but a sum of effort, the procedure or steps taken, probability of success, and good fortune working in our favor. We can only take responsibility for so much when things go wrong just as when things manifest as desired.

In athletics, especially a team-sport, players and coaches analyze what could’ve been done better or differently, often times resulting in a player being held accountable. An awesome and most pure approach is that the team outcome is the accumulation of many events not to be blamed on one person; or allow one person to have all the glory. But, too often, we see players feeling the pressure or accepting the blame for a loss, when there were many players out there on the field or court. But what about when a player drops a pass only he could’ve caught to win the game, or miss a shot only he had the opportunity to make? It becomes very absolute then. Either it went well or it didn’t. Was it fear of failing or fear of success, lack of talent, or something bigger? But one thing is true: there is another time to get it right…unless that was the last. Hopefully we aren’t experiencing the last one, but you never know when it is or the next to last one. Just give it your all and be thankful for every experience. And understand that there are other venues for the expression of talent to create success or happiness.

In my estimation, Athletics are a microcosm of life in its entirety. And athletes have a very direct connection to the physical and incalculable energy that exists in the world. It’s why I love my sport of choice and was so sad when I didn’t have the opportunity to continue it at the highest level. But, I’ve found peace in that I can still play the game and still feel that connection.

Now, I’m moving forward with what I have learned from the game and those lessons have been priceless for me in the non-sport world. I also can better appreciate that there is something greater working its show too.

Sport to Life

Coach Mike Preston once told me that I’ll never be as good as I can be, until I take it upon myself to put in the wok on my own. Mike Preston was my prep school basketball coach, who also accompanied me to my first college, as an Assistant Coach.

In college, I had to work on my jump shot accuracy and consistency. Over the years, a player will learn certain drills and believe in them blindly, as if that’s all a player can do to improve on those areas of their basketball game. That was me. I thought I was hard working and motivated–and I may have been compared to those closest to me, but I needed to do more. Bear in mind that there is always someone somewhere working. Getting better when you aren’t.

Working with this coach was an exercise in expanding my mind and approach to what it was to master a skill and become great. “It” has to come from within. A person will only be as good as they can be when they start making themselves take those 200 extra shots; or going to run; or hitting the library or writing without being told by an authority figure. It creates ability or skill, and confidence in yourself.

The greatest theories or innovations in art, philosophy, sports, and the like are not made or formed in a classroom or during a team regulated practice for the most part. The real discoveries of self-ability are found when doing one’s own experiments–although maybe based on classroom teachings, furthering the groundwork laid by individuals in a person’s environment.

I got exponentially better at basketball when I decided that I didn’t need a coach to put me through a workout. I found a way to challenge myself. As this relates to the rest of the world, I know that self-starters or those who go above and beyond the call of duty are those improving at the greatest rate of change.

Improvement is a core feature of living, in my estimation, such as adaptability is essential to survival. You can reference Darwin and other theorists of evolution if you feel otherwise.

I guess the teaching my parents gave me for being accountable or responsible for my own actions was driven home by a basketball coach, by seeing it applied in a more discrete venue. My room was never as clean as the time I wanted it clean. The same way my jump shot was never as accurate until I took it upon myself to never want to miss, or think every shot was going in the basket.

I found new ways to perfect shooting; or made new moves to help me get by a defender; or imagined making shots with a defender guarding me. When I was using my imagination the results were greater. I believe that is applicable to all things.

Being mindful that rules and laws set a baseline, the imagination in conjunction with hard work is here to expand that baseline; thus giving us more. Sports are a microcosm of life in general, but certainly as sports pertain to improvement.

Pete Carroll is an Example…

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With the recent Seahawks’ win, and other wins under Coach Carroll, I do believe Pete Carroll is an example of a successful coach. He is also an example of what most coaches, who have coached football at the NCAA level are like, not so much in his behavior or skill level, but with his tactics. And, by tactics, I mean the fact that people have to get their hands a little dirty. This should not take anything away from his success at the Pro or College level. The idea that his hands could be considered a little dirty is based on the regulations of the NCAA, but regardless of his recruiting techniques Carroll knows football; and is still carrying on with a youthful exuberance and love of the game, at 62. What this should call attention to is the NCAA.

Johnny Manziel, may have profited from his autograph this summer (not like he needs the money). And, after NCAA investigations were complete, he served a team administered one-half game suspension. But–current NFL wide out–AJ Green was suspended by the NCAA, for four games, for selling his jersey for $1,000 to an alleged agent, after his junior year in college. All the money he made for UGA? He can’t profit too. Oh! My boy Dez Bryant lost his entire senior season and the money from a dropped stock in the NFL pro draft, for lying about hanging around a former prominent athlete. It’s really not a surprise that the treatment of one rich white kid, who won the Heisman is juxtaposed to two black kids, who are now millionaires, but god’s grace. There appears to be an arbitrary enforcement mechanism. And looking to these examples Racial issues are still alive and well if NCAA sports are any indicator.

So why does this matter when talking about Coach Pete Carroll? Because he coached Reggie Bush, who–while at USC–under Carroll’s tutelage, was accused of taking money. Reggie was then stripped of his Heisman Trophy. USC would also deal with sanctions. And, what was Carroll’s role? what punishment does he deserve? But, good thing for Coach Carroll he got out of there and landed a position with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. But, the idea that USC and Reggie Bush have to give up wins and a trophy is ridiculous. Hopefully while on the level playing field that is the NFL, it will show that USC was deserving of those wins and Bush entitled to his trophy.

We have an NCAA which implements rules and regulations for players, schools, and coaches alike, but it seems for the most part that it’s the players who get in the trouble, spawning from a multitude of reasons. The coaches and schools find themselves in violation when attempting to recruit the best players. It’s clear the rules have to get broken to have a modicum of success. Moreover, the lack of guidance from the coaches and schools hurts players when players start to look like goldmines, based on their stellar college performances.

Sadly, not everyone is going to be rich from playing a sport–including those who make it to the highest NCAA level. Sadly, those players who don’t “make it,” are left with nothing to show for it financially. Money matters. You can argue that players have the chance to earn a free degree, but in this economy, it’s next to worthless, especially when considering the majors for the degrees earned, if earned. The compromise of blood, sweat, tears, and a lack of a balanced college life is not repaid with a free education. The NCAA is running a plantation especially when it comes to sports like football and basketball.

Pete Carroll knows the devil that is the NCAA and the difficultly associated with being a successful head coach at that level. He had to do dirt to hit pay dirt enough times to where his teams could win, which enables him to look good. And, now with Coach Carroll at the NFL level, where the playing field is level, as far as talent is concerned–for the most part–it’s clear to see that talent acquisition is only a part of the puzzle. Pete Carroll is showing that it’s what you do with the talent.

The money used to entice young talent to attend a school does not make a team win, no more than buying a drink for a girl at a bar will get a man laid. It helps. It helps. But, there is way more involved in order to have a team win or have a man get laid. The NCAA should appreciate that fact when handing out violations, while NOT amending their rules for this current age of collegiate athletics. The NCAA stripping Bush of his Heisman is still a bullshit decision. Reggie didn’t play better because he got a couple hundred dollars. Fuck that chump change! Think about it this way: that money was nothing compared to the money Reggie Bush helped the NCAA, ESPN, the then PAC-10, and USC make during his tenure. Not to mention what all players help networks and their schools to earn for playing a sport. Reggie was trying to get NFL money, not a few hundred bucks so he could help mitigate the cost of living, or to get it while the getting is good because nothing is promise in a gladiator sport like that.

Basically, Pete Carroll is exposing the NCAA for their weak ass policies, with his winning in the NFL. Hopefully Chip Kelly and Jim Harbough can keep the show going. Pete Carroll is going to win no matter where he is because he has the tools from his knowledge of the game, not money from…whatever resource to pay players (if they are getting paid, because not all do). Face it: College Sports are not amateur sports. College athletics are a billion dollar business made off the backs of young people, without the allowance of paying the talent. It’s so hypocritical, it’s sickening. And not to mention criminal, in that schools have arranged price-fixing, so not to pay players (see antitrust laws). Just stop with the bullshit NCAA and schools protecting their profit margins. Way to go Coach Carroll, you’re exposing the NCAA.

Also!! The Lack of Diversity in leadership in NCAA athletics…:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110hhrg35220/pdf/CHRG-110hhrg35220.pdf