For those of you outside of NC, you must know that today is a bit of a holiday in North Carolina. Tonight at 9 p.m., Duke and Carolina match up for the first time this season. They will meet again at the beginning of March.
The rivalry is so big that one attendee of our SuperBowl party Sunday night actually came wearing Carolina blue, “preparing for Wednesday night.” There is no February sports lull in the Southeast…February is when college basketball can finally take center stage, where it belongs. Oh, and there’s a little sport called NASCAR that’s beginning its season this time of year, also.
The beauty of both of these sports to me is that I have no dog in the fight, so to speak. I can sit back and watch the competition for what it is.
Over the last few months, you may have noticed that my blog has grown strangely quiet on the topic of sports. The shortage of conversation here is an inverse picture of what has been happening around the house…David and I have been talking sports a lot. But not the usual, “who will win/who’s the better team/what’s happening with my team” kind of conversation. It’s been a lot of conversation about what influences us in choosing our teams…what it shows about our character, etc. And we’ve reached a conclusion.
It is far, far, easier to watch sports for excellence in competition, character, and true greatness, when you don’t really care who wins.
I’ll give you an example. Far and away, I would rather my children imitate a man like Tony Dungy than one like Bill Belichick. But because of the arbitrary fact of where I grew up, I somehow (until this year) felt compelled to somehow defend Belichick being a slimy rule-bender. Like I heard Rodney Harrison say on Sunday, “People say I’m a dirty player. Football’s a dirty game.” Well, OK.
But I don’t like that. And I don’t agree. And now that my children are playing competitive sports, I don’t want them to think that way. I want to develop a sensitivity in them that says, “that’s not outstanding, God-honoring play.”
So when football season began this year, David and I decided to just stop talking about who we were rooting for. Instead, we asked the kids who they wanted to win.
And a funny thing happened.
They developed interest in all kinds of teams. Granted, they are young, so their “rooting” decisions mostly depended on what color the teams were wearing, or at whose field the teams were playing (we had to eventually tell them that just because you’re the home team, doesn’t mean you win. The Carolina Panthers were helpful on this point.).
There’s a poster hanging on the door to Cameron and Ben’s room right now that has the logos of many different teams. It was drawn by Cameron, and it includes NFL teams as well as at least four college teams.
I think at this point — maybe even more than last year, when their mother and father were pumping them full of Patriots and Broncos “kool-aid” — they are more ready to watch a game and say, “that was an arrogant thing to do,” even if it was something that their chosen team did. They are more ready to watch Tim Tebow and recognize his worth as someone to emulate because he wins with humility instead of the mere fact that he won the Heisman.
Even Tom Brady knows that there’s far more to life than victory in football. I just wish he knew what it was.