I intentionally left the word “sport” out of the title of this post because, though each of these stories come from the world of sports, the issues highlighted go far beyond something as temporary as an athletic competition. They are stories about higher virtues than winning or losing. They are about things like valor, courage, generosity, compassion, and fairness. I found each of them moving and challenging. I believe each are worthy of your time and thought. Let me know what you think …
Ashton Eaton is one of the greatest athlete’s in the world. He was a three-time NCAA decathlon champion outdoors, a two-time NCAA heptathlon champion indoors (where he holds the world record), the defending US national decathlon champion, and he won the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea. I have had the chance to officiate Ashton on a number of occasions and he has always conducted himself with class. He is one of the US stars in track and field that you need to keep your eyes on in this Olympic year.
But he’s not necessarily the real hero in his family. Track and Field News shared a link to Ashton’s blog where he told the story of his brother, a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marines who was recently awarded the Silver Star – the third highest combat medal than can be given. It is worth your time to read Ashton’s words. His brother is just one of thousands of men and women who have risked, and given, their lives to make our world a safer place. They have demonstrated valor and courage on behalf of people they have never met and, for the most part, will never know what they did. We will never know most of their names. It is nice to be able to put a face and a story with one.
One of the football coaches on the hot seat in the SEC (at least at the start of the year) was Mark Richt, the head coach at Georgia. Fortunately, after on 0-2 start, the Bulldogs turned things around and had a great season – winning ten games in a row, the SEC East title, playing in the SEC Championship game, and earning a trip to the Outback Bowl. I say fortunately not because I’m a Georgia fan, but because the SEC (and all of the sports world) needs people like Mark Richt, who has a reputation of being a man of character. As this story also demonstrates, he is a man of generosity. I may not always cheer for Georgia, but I will be a Mark Richt fan.
Finally, I came across this story today (again, thanks to Track and Field News). It resonated with me because for the past year we have been dealing with a student in our ministry who found himself in a similar situation as this young lady. One of the things that I have learned from this process is that it is easy to speak from a podium or to a TV camera and dictate policy until you know people who are personally affected and whose future’s are in the balance. Illegal immigration is an issue that needs to be faced and dealt with, but it has to be done (especially in the cases like Ayded’s and Jonathan’s, who were brought to the US as children, have been raised here, and are contributing to making our nation better) with a sense of fairness and compassion.