Whether it's Coach Reilly telling the Hawks to deliberately take out Adam Banks, Sensei Kreese telling Johnny to "Sweep the leg!," Coach Kilmer forcing his players to get shots to play on injured knees, or the referees in Remember The Titans trying to cheat because they wanted Coach Boone out--we see the often ugly side of sports where adults put kids in a position they shouldn't be in. That's what makes the footage so shocking.
The hits alone are enough to make you gasp, but as the story has emerged a whole new layer to the onion came to light. An assistant coach on the team made the comment "He's got to pay for cheating us." Whether or not the coach told the players to target the referee and take him out with a dirty hit is a moot point, as adults we cannot let ourselves get to a place where our thought is payback, or where we forget that we are the grown-ups in the room and we need to act like it. Complaining to the ref or arguing a call is one thing, but it's completely out of bounds to in essence put a contract out on him. The players deserve whatever punishment they get for what they did on the field, but we cannot let the coach off the hook either.
Being an adult means putting aside what was childish, which Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13:11 "when I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." Unfortunately, we're not seeing that progression from child to adult, we're seeing a delayed maturity called "extended adolescence" which can extend into the 30s and beyond. In those cases, boys never really become men, they just can shave, girls never really become women, they just look like an adult. And it's not just in sports. My heart breaks when I hear of adults who are the enablers for their kids' bad behavior, or where they just won't step in and say no.
Adults need to be the ones with the big picture - A Friday night football game might seem like a big deal, but the adult has to recognize that there's more to life than Friday night. They have to be willing to step back and see how bad decisions can have lasting consequences, and how important it is to develop habits of living with wisdom.
Adults need to be the ones to take responsibility - It's really easy when you're a kid, you just keep passing the blame around. Not the best strategy because it always comes back around to you, but it's worth a shot. Adults on the other hand need to be the ones to own up to what we have done and take responsibility. We need to be proud enough to own up but humble enough to apologize. I've had to say I'm sorry to my boys so many times for failing as a parent and husband. I want them to know it's OK to say you're sorry, ask forgiveness, hug, and move on.
Adults need to be the ones to say no - There are things that sound like a good idea to kids. There's a reason, they're kids. The adult has to be the one to say no to bad ideas. Saying no isn't fun, and it's not always popular, but adults have to be willing to take responsibility and stop bad ideas from becoming YouTube videos.
Adults need to be the ones who set the example - We can try to say that peer culture has the biggest influence on kids and teens, but at the end of the day the research (even from beer companies) says parents are the top influencer. As adults, we have to be the ones who model what it means to be responsible, mature, and faithful. Spiritually it means we're not just telling our kids to go to church, we're going and involved and plugged in and serving. In the home it means not just telling them to clean their room, it means picking up your socks. And relationally it means loving and honoring your spouse so they see how a mom and dad are supposed to treat each other. Dads, the way you treat your wife is how your son-in-law will treat your daughter. And moms, the way you love your husband is the way your daughter-in-law will love your little boy.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.