So the basketball has hit the fan.
No doubt you’ve seen the footage. The coach allows his passion to overload his good judgment – and the players are the victims.
Youth leaders would never dream (I hope) of throwing things at students (though, admittedly, the thought has crossed my mind a time or two….). But we do sometimes allow our passion to overload good judgment. And our students pay the price.
When we shame, intimidate, or emotionalize students into a walk with Jesus, we draw them onto a dysfunctional court. It’s akin to hurling a spiritual basketball at the back of someone’s head. It’s a poor foundation for solid teamwork and love for the game. Youth workers act just like those coaches every time we orchestrate an emotional response. We’re pushing and shoving players every time we guilt a student for not showing up to a Wednesday night Bible study. When we motivate students to participate as a measure of their ‘commitment to the team’, rather than a genuine desire for Christ, we’re an intimidating Rutgers coach – flailing arms, disgusting slurs, and all….it’s just wrapped in a more socially acceptable package.
And much like many of the Rutgers players, students don’t even recognize it. They learn to play the game. They take the lumps as they come. They cower at the thought of making a mistake. They strive for perfection on the court. And they defend the coach’s abuse as ‘normal’.
It’s not normal. A passion for Jesus is motivated by the Holy Spirit through acts of love, kindness, forgiveness, and guidance – not emotional outbursts, passionate pleas, or veiled, socially acceptable guilt complexes.
How do you motivate students to follow Jesus?
OK – I don’t usually use my blog to rant – but I have to get these thoughts out of my head and off my heart…so I apologize and give you my blessing to stop reading now. It is solely my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of this blog….wait, that doesn’t really work here.
As the story unfolds, I become more sickened. The victimization of children and apathy for everything but the football program truly makes me want to vomit. And I’m sorry, but “we took things too far – this is about victims and we’re here to support them regardless of what happens to our football coach or program.” Well that’s mighty big of you. Thank you.
And don’t tell me about the ‘Blue Out.’ As a former victim of child abuse, someone wearing blue would have done absolutely nothing to rescue me from my assailant. And while it’s nice that ‘proceeds are benefiting abuse agencies’, those agencies weren’t standing in the shower while those precious lives were being robbed of their innocence.
Furthermore, how many victims won’t ever seek healing after watching idiots riot on behalf of their beloved decepticon….I mean coach. What kind of message does it send to kids when the person covering up their abuse is lauded as a ‘person too vital to the community’ to pay the price for his silence? Frankly, Paterno (most likely a mandated reporter) better thank his lucky stars that his job is the only thing he’s losing.
And, please tell me how can anyone – ANYONE!!! – walk in on the rape of a 10-year-old boy and a) not beat the living stars (and that’s not the word in my heart!) out of the perpetrator, b) rescue said child from the circumstance, and c) immediately go to the police?? Disgusting.
I understand there’s an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ factor here – and certainly a burden of proof that must still be met. But in the meantime, could we actually stand-up in a meaningful way for victims of abuse? Get your hands dirty by volunteering for agencies that meet victims’ needs – not by throwing bricks through windows. Donate as much money to this cause as you do for your football tickets – and do it for the ‘rightness’ of it, not because you’re getting a shirt out of the deal. Spend some time protecting an abuse victim – at least as much time as you spend defending your favorite coach.
Rant concluded – we now return you to regular blogging, already in progress.