Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Make a Kid's (or a Father's) Day

Two Major League Baseball players rose high in my personal rankings last week when my son and I attended the Padres vs. Nationals game. Like many times before, we arrived early in hopes of catching a ball during batting practice and possibly even getting an autograph or two.

As the players from both teams headed off the practice field and into their clubhouses to prepare for the game, two Washington National pitchers (Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzales) stopped by a young boy who was calling their names and requesting a signature. My 10 year old son quickly joined him and was able to get autographs from these two popular players.

Each time a major league player signs an autograph for a kid he is doing something more than offerring him a valueable collectible. This simple act of taking time to acknowledge that kid and his request is creating an inspired moment for the young fan. It sounds cliche' but one look into my son's eyes after receiving the signature says it all. These players validated my boy's respect for them as people and it gave him a sense of importance to have these "big names" stop and look him in the eyes.

Players who take the time to sign a few autopgraphs and pose for pictures demonstrates their understanding of the responsibility that comes from being a star. These guys play a game for work and in doing so have the eyes of thousands of young people on them everyday. Their job teaches kids about working hard and having fun. It says, "dreams can come true" and, "don't forget to appreciate life as it passes by".

Taking a moment to make a kid's day says, "I remember being young and dreaming of making it big. I remember having heros and how much I looked up to them. I do not take this privilege lightly."

So thank you Strasburg and Gonzales. Your act of kindness last week created a new fan... actually two new fans if you count my son.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Coming Out As a Bigot?

When ESPN analyst and reporter Chris Broussard was asked about his opinion regarding Jason Collins' admission that he is gay and he is a Christian, Broussard came out of his own closet.

He didn't come out as a gay man, he came out as a sports journalist who has developed opinions about the Bible and Christian living. I always knew him as an insightful analyst who often proved too accurate when he predicted the quick demise of the Los Angeles Lakers this play-off season. Most of the sports community also knew him this way... until he ventured into new territory.

When asked about Collins, Broussard said he found it hard to believe a committed Christian could actively engage in living in a way contradictory to the Bible. He did not stop with an active homosexual lifestyle, he went on to say he also did not believe you could be a committed Christian and engage in hetero-sexual sex outside of marriage.

So in one statement he alienated 1 out of 360 active NBA players who claim to be gay and Christian. He also aliented all the other players who claim to be Christian and still actively engage in sexual activity outside of marriage.

After making these comments, Broussard went on to say, "Today on OTL, as part of a larger, wide-ranging discussion on today's news, I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA."

The response against Chris Broussard was swift and harsh. ESPN apologized for the comments and said they support diversity (presumably as long as the diversity does not include Broussard's opinion). One article said Broussard came out as a bigot and lambasted his stance supporting his view of the Bible. Even one Christian group began a petition to get Broussard suspended for, "gay-bashing".

As is often the case, I am missing something. Chris Broussard believes the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin so he addressed this issue in the context of his paradigm. He wasn't, "gay-bashing". He was "hypocritical Christian bashing". We all know bashing hypocritical Christians is perfectly acceptable so it is difficult for me to accept Broussard's comments as inappropriate. Never did he say there was something wrong with Collins. He did not say Collins was a coward, sub-human, or unacceptable. He did not call names or promote and call for hatred of Jason or others like him. He stated his opinion that says, "Anyone claiming to be Christian and living in un-repentant sin is not living according to the Bible".

Chris Broussard not only called out Jason Collins, he called me out. He said if I claim to be a Christian, which I do, I must not take my sin lightly and must work to live in a way described in scripture and modeled by Jesus. In the euphoria of public opinion and the understandable support for Collins, Broussard's words went  misunderstood. If what Broussard said was so wrong, then all of us who claim fiath and yet walk in our own sin should join together in our opposition of this newly outed bigot.