In 2019, I was a varsity offensive assistant and freshman offensive coordinator for Calvert Hall College High School’s football program. As the freshman offensive coordinator in 2019, I worked with an outstanding varsity-quality coaching staff that were full-time freshman coaches and was given broad leeway to set the tone and culture for the team.
As a devout Christian of the Catholic Tradition working in the Catholic schools, for home games I wanted our team to invite our opponents to meet us on the Cardinal after the handshake line at the end of the game to engage in a joint team prayer led by one of our captains. This happened regardless of the outcome of the game. There are life lessons and theological lessons involved.
The first life lesson is easy. This is about respecting your opponent and showing great sportsmanship. You can’t play this great game of American football if you cannot find eleven other people to agree to play with you.
The second lesson is a distinctly Christian lesson. Your opponent is not your “enemy.” It is self-serving, self-aggrandizing, and narcissistic to beat your chest when you read Bible passages that talk about defeating the enemy and apply it to your opponent in competition.
The enemy is Satan who brings despair, destruction, and death. That is what the Bible is talking about when it is written that belief in Jesus Christ will defeat the enemy. It is through Jesus Christ’s bodily death and resurrection that we know that God is real and not wishful thinking. It is belief in Jesus that will defeat death and bring us to everlasting life.
Your opponent is a human being made in the image of God. Your opponent is just like you and will go through the same trials and triumphs as you do.We wear different colors on game day, but at the end of the day, we are “One in Christ.” – Galatians 3:26-29 <><
Pictured here is the post-game joint team prayer between Calvert Hall and Archbishop Spalding at the freshman football game in 2019. You can’t miss me. I am the one standing up suited and booted. Folks who know me a little bit will know that two-time Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer Tom Landry, the legendary and dapper head coach for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1988 who is also a devout Christian, is one of my biggest idols.
Less than three months later, I was hired to be an Assistant Coach for Archbishop Spalding’s varsity football team.
The official motto of Archbishop Spalding High School is, “One in Christ.”
Soon enough, I was on the other sideline. I was not the enemy before nor am I the enemy after the transition. I sure ain’t the devil!I am still a human being made in the image of God. I have dreams and ambitions. I have struggles and challenges. I pray for the success and salvation of all children, regardless of their team affiliation.
This Friday, October 1, 2021, Calvert Hall will visit Archbishop Spalding to play a football game. It will be another game of the week. I am excited to see the kids I used to coach on the other sideline. I am excited to see the kids I currently coach compete to the best of their ability.
We all want to win, and folks know very well my unquestionable commitment to winning, especially winning in a just and moral manner. Playing people I know and like does not take the edge off my competitiveness. It is a game. The enemy in the Bible is Satan, not my opponent.
We will play hard. We will play fast. We will play strong. We will play to win.At the end of the game, we are all “One in Christ.”
May you all come to know that your self-worth is not defined by any earthly accomplishments, but that it is inherent in Jesus Christ. Our own efforts alone will never be enough to provide security, prosperity, peace, and salvation in our lives. Only through belief in Jesus Christ will we receive all these things and more. Our self-worth is unearned because it is inherent in Jesus Christ. Our salvation is unearned because Jesus Christ paid the cost. Grace is a gift given free of charge. We are free to accept or reject the gift.
This I know. I know where I am going when it is time to go. I would like for everyone to hop on the ride because I like everybody regardless of your team affiliation. The ticket is free, but you have to get out of your comfort zone and make the sacrifice to get to the station. We are only going in one direction.