Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Cougars and God - faith in basketball

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane's newspaper) has published an article by Nick Eaton on the Washington State Cougars basketball team and, specifically, the Christian faith of their coach and several players. The Cougars are still in the NCAA basketball tournament (Sweet 16) - the only Northwest team left.

I'm always interested in how the intersection of belief in Jesus Christ and involvement in sports is covered by the media. It's a mixed bag. This article is pretty good, on the whole.

What was most interesting, though, is a question I like to ask, not just of athletes, but of anyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ - "What difference does it make in how you play/work/live/relate/teach/govern/parent, etc.?"

Some of the Cougars have the letters "ISAW" on their shirts. It's a reference to 1 Corinthians 9:24 which says, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." "ISAW" - In Such A Way - is the Cougars motto this year. Coach Tony Bennet, a Christian, wants his team to do everything "in such a way" that they might achieve their purpose of winning.

Taylor Rochestie, junior guard, says that "in such a way" means "kind of not playing for yourself, that's what it really does mean to me. You gotta train in such a way to get the team better. Play in such a way - you know, go for the loose balls, do the little things. It's kind of the same way as saying, 'Do the intangibles.'"

Senior center Robbie Cowgill says, "Because of (faith), I don't have to worry about how people view me or if I miss a bunch of shots, what my identity really is. Because I already know I'm secure in who God says I am, and that's who I am...I think in basketball that helps me a lot, calms me down a lot."

Daven Harmeling, junior guard, says, "You know, tangibly, I think my faith helps me play with passion. For me, a way to honor (God) is to play as hard as I can. And, you know, that doesn't mean He's going to guide the ball (into the basket) every time; I don't think He does any of that. But it does mean that I can play in a way that I can honor Him with what He's given me."

Well done, guys. Beat North Carolina!

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