Thursday, March 13, 2014

Discipline and Basketball

I've watched my share of Duke basketball over the years, and as we enter March Madness, I've been comparing faith and basketball. There are many similarities swirling in my head; the one I'd like to focus on today is discipline.

I have so much respect for Coach Krzyzewksi (Coach K). He has some amazing accomplishments in the college and international basketball worlds, but he's also the type of man you'd want to follow. He is fair and grounded. He is a man of principles and teaches his players to work as a team, win or lose.

He is also Catholic. And not passively Catholics - he attends mass every Sunday, and part of his pre-game routine is to say a rosary. Sometimes you can see him on TV crossing himself right before a game starts. (And, by the way...Coach Cutcliffe, the head football coach who is turning Duke football around is also Catholic. So is Duke's athletic director, Kevin White. Duke may not be perfect, but there are many things that keep me excited to call myself a Dukie.)
Greg Paulus (also Catholic) warming up, way before a game

What has allowed Coach K to be as successful as he is with the Duke basketball program is his discipline. He expects a lot from himself and his team. His expectations aren't unrealistic. He knows the strengths and weaknesses of each player, and he talks openly to them about it. He talks openly with the students, too, which is how I've interacted with him. He admits to us when a player is having a rough day and lets us know what we can do to encourage the players during a game. He also chastises us when our jeering of the opposing team becomes spiteful and expects us to keep our chants witty and classy.

And his discipline carries over to those around him. The players know those expectations and respect him enough to strive for them without taking shortcuts. Consequently, the team flourishes. They don't win every time, but they end the season with a good record, having put their best into each game.

This is exactly the discipline we need to follow Christ. There are high expectations. There are many days we don't live up to the ideals of our "coach". Jesus is honest with us, if only we listen to his chastisement and encouragement. Striving each day to follow Him, we'll grow stronger and live our lives better. We won't become perfect, but our track record will improve as we align our expectations and desires to His.

Discipline is hard. You know the saying, "No pain, no gain." In order to see the results, we have to put in the effort. Following Christ is no different. He says
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
That takes work and dedication!

To become a great basketball player, you have to follow the regimen and work hard in practices. You have to strengthen your body and your mind as well as work with your team so you play as one when a game gets tough.

The same goes for becoming a saint. You have to commit to the practices that bring you closer to God as well as pour out your love on those around you to build a community that strives to work together as one.

Our discipline is constantly put to the test, especially during this season of Lent, as we make new commitments that draw us deeper into God's embrace. Yes, it's hard work. We know who we're following, though...and He's a pretty amazing guy! He gave His life for us. Can't we show our gratitude in the way we live our lives?

How can you further welcome this discipline into your life?

1 comment:

  1. This is so true! Discipline is very important in a Christian's life! It's a blessing, though, that the Lord doesn't view our failures as failures. Our failures are covered by His grace! :-) Thanks for linking this up with the Faith and Fellowship blog hop! :-)