Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the category “Sports Shorts”

IT’S FUN TO BE A ROYALS FAN AGAIN!

It was the spring of 1985. I was a senior in high school. My best friend had a huge crush on a guy by the name of George Brett. You ever heard of him? Yep, he played 3rd base for the Kansas City Royals. Now when I say “crush,” I mean partial infatuation actually.

I’m not sure if it was opening day or not, but we skipped school one afternoon to go the game. Although it earned us a day of In School Suspension, it was worth it. Needless to say, the Royals went on to win the World Series that year. Yes, it was fun to be a Royals fan in 1985!

Royals T pic

My friend and I went to the games often, paid less than five bucks for a general admission ticket, stayed after the games, chatted with the players, and took lots of pictures with them. If Facebook was around back then, we would have loaded it up with selfies with the Royals. 🙂 Instead we took our film to the Kodak booth, waited a week for it to be developed, and lined our locker with our prized pics of us and our favorite players.

The players back then seemed to play for an absolute love of the game. It was fun to watch. There was camaraderie, unity, teamwork, effort, hustle, and excitement. Thirty years ago, the highest paid MLB player was Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies who hauled in a little over $2 million. The highest paid MLB player this year is Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 2015 earnings are somewhere around $31.2 million. I don’t think I’ll even comment about that absurdity.

I took a hiatus from baseball fandom for several years. The Royals stunk it up for the longest time. They were terrible. They knew it. The fans knew it. All of KC knew it. That and the fact that cable TV has now monopolized almost all of the MLB games, those without cable (that’d be me), just drift off into the baseball-less sunset.

But it was fun to be a Royals fan in 1985. It’s fun to be one 30 years later, and I’ll tell you why. These guys seem to once again play for an absolute love of the game. It’s like watching little league boys in a grown up ballpark. They’re young, fun, aggressive, passionate, and know they have some unfinished business from last year’s heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the World Series. Ned Yost, the manager of the team, is a fairly hardcore strategist, but it works. And he allows these guys to have their fun, yet hold up a high standard and even higher expectations.

Yep, it’s fun to be a Royals fan again. Here’s to hoping that this fan will be celebrating deep into October. (Or as those of us in Kansas City call it, “oKCtober”.)

“GO OUTSIDE AND WRESTLE!”

When I was a kid my older brothers and I would occasionally wrestle in the family room or living room. Most of the time it was just playful scuffles. I suppose my brothers may have scrapped it up with a little more aggressiveness now and then. But it was always fun, and crazy, and exhausting. But without fail, if our dad was home at the time, before any of our wrestling matches could ever finish, we’d hear the rise of his voice from wherever he was, “You kids go outside and wrestle!” And sometimes we’d actually follow through with his wishes and go outside to grapple on. I remember once we were all outside eating dinner on our patio, and the wrestling began. My dad, without even hesitating, said “You kids go inside and wrestle!” 🙂

John Smith

I have teenage boys that frequently wrestle in our living room. Sometimes I join in. (I used to beat them handily. Now it’s purely a game of survival for me. Literally!)

Wrestling. If you allow it, it’s a good thing. Yes, I know the dangers. Our lamps and end tables show the scars wrestling. But it’s fun. It builds strength. It builds character. It’s strange family bonding, I’ll admit. But it’s good to wrestle.

I think in terms of life, wrestling is also good. We’ve got to wrestle with issues in order to know where we really stand. We’ve got to wrestle through relationships, academics, future plans, social issues, and spiritual matters. If we don’t wrestle, if the answers to life’s questions are all handed to us, if we don’t grapple with stress or failure or discouragement, we build no firm foundation for ourselves. We don’t learn things like patience, perseverance, faith, hard work, personal fortitude, coping, decision making, etc. These are life skills. These are life character traits that we all need to survive and thrive in this tough world.

You know, some families outlaw wrestling in their homes and I can respect that. There are certainly consequences to rough-housing. But some people outlaw the privilege of letting others in their midst wrestle through hard stuff. What a disservice. From my perspective, it doesn’t take very long to spot the “silver platter people” or the “I’ve-always-had-a-rescuer-so-come-and-rescue-me” people. You can just tell they’ve never wrestled. Bless ‘em!

When I was a student at Oklahoma State University I took Anatomy & Physiology with John Smith. He sat right next to me when he wasn’t off winning national or international wrestling awards. John is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. In 1996, he was named one of the 100 Greatest Olympians of All Time. He now coaches wrestling at OSU. He said, “A lotta times…you gotta win ugly.”

You see, life isn’t all wrapped up in a pretty little package.  God is not a “silver platter” or “spoon-feed” God. We’re gonna have struggles. We’re gonna have stress. We’re gonna have to wrestle. And yes…sometimes we even have to wrestle with God.

Hit the mat. Scrap it up. Wrestling is good.

So…if you or someone in your life is grappling with a tough issue, let me give you some words of wisdom borrowed from my Pops: “Go outside and wrestle!”

SHAME ON YOU, CHIEFS FANS!

The Kansas City Chiefs are the talk of the town. Better than that, they’re making national news this week. Why? Did they knock out an undefeated team? Did one of its players reach a career milestone? Was there a phenomenal athletic play that only the best of the best could have made? No, no, and…no. The Kansas City Chiefs are making national news based NOT on their performance, but on the performance of their so-called “fans.” I’m sure you’ve heard by now. Their starting (and struggling) QB Matt Cassel got decked on a play in the 4th quarter and Chiefs fans didn’t grimace or gasp. They cheered! Shame on you, Chiefs fans!

KC Chiefs

Shame on you, Chiefs fans!

Eric Winston, Chiefs tackle, gave the media an earful after the Sunday’s game rightfully scolding, castigating, and condemning the grossly inappropriate behavior of the Chiefs fans. He called it “100% sickening.” He added “if you are one of those people that were out there cheering or even smiled when he got knocked out, I just want to let you know, and I want everybody to know, that I think it’s sickening and disgusting.”

I wasn’t at the game, but was watching it on TV. Eric Winston is right. Chiefs fans blew it that day. They showed an evil side of themselves that will forever leave a blemish on an otherwise decent reputation. And it wasn’t that they got caught up in the heat of the moment. It wasn’t that they were frustrated at the dismal play of Matt Cassel, the offense, the defensive secondary, the pitiful play calling, etc. I don’t believe that. It runs deeper.

I was at the home opener this year and I witnessed a similar sickening display from the Chiefs fans myself. At halftime, the KU Marching Jayhawks took to the field to provide the halftime entertainment. And guess what? Chiefs fans booed! Yes…I’m serious. I live in Kansas City, Missouri, and completely understand the lifelong rivalry between KU and MU. It’s intense. Any time these two teams square off it is sheer cutthroat on the court/field and off. But why, oh why, the Chiefs fans had the audacity to “boo” a marching band that came to entertain them at halftime is beyond me. I was shocked and embarrassed. Again, shame on you, Chiefs fans!

Can Chiefs fans redeem themselves? Will the Chiefs tolerate this new “fanaticism” brewing in their stands? Can Arrowhead Stadium regain the reputation of being one of the best atmospheres in the NFL? Only time (and behavior) will tell.

PATHETIC PRIORITIES OR POWERFUL ONES?

I knew of a guy who coached college football for many years. He was very successful in turning a lot of programs around. He even won a national championship. He eventually left college coaching and accepted a position in the NFL. The first thing he did was divorce his wife of 26 years. He said he needed a wife while coaching on the college level for various social functions and to show families that he would be taking good care of their sons. In pro football, however, he viewed her as an unnecessary distraction to winning. He said winning football was his number one priority and his two sons were second. How pathetic…not to mention tragic! 

In contrast to this, Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas cowboys said, “The thrill of knowing Jesus is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” He continued, ” … I think God has put me in a very special place, and He expects me to use it to His glory in everything I do. Whether coaching football or talking to the press, I’m always a Christian. Christ is first, family second and football third.” How powerful!

What a huge difference in priorities!

It’s interesting when we try to determine what people’s priorities are, isn’t it? Consider this list:

  • Charlie Sheen’s priority? Winning
  • Garfield’s priority? Food (especially lasagna)
  • Mitt Romney’s priority? Votes
  • Barry Bonds’ priority? Home runs (or perhaps the steroids used to hit them?)
  • Paula Deen’s priority? Magnificent meals
  • Fred Phelps’ priority? Protesting
  • Billy Graham’s priority? Winning lost souls

We determine our priorities by what we spend our time, money, effort, and energy on. Our priorities are what we value, what we talk about, what we stand for. So, if we’re being honest, are our priorities pathetic…or are they powerful? Do they go beyond ourselves? Are they focused on charitable, worthwhile, meaningful things? Or are they based on ourselves?

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Action expresses priorities.” Simple, yet true! Perhaps those things we truly act on are our real priorities.

What are your priorities? How are your actions expressing those priorities?

SMALL ENCOURAGEMENT…BIG IMPACT

Jackie Robinson was the first African American man to play major league baseball. In every stadium he faced  mocking crowds who sneered, jeered, and taunted him. During one particular game , Robinson committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him mercilessly. He stood at second base, humiliated, listening to the scornful blasts coming from the crowd. At that moment, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the unforgiving crowd. The fans suddenly grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

A simple act of comfort, encouragement, reassurance, and reinforcement that made a monumental impact on a guy ready to give up.

We all struggle. We all make errors. We all face opposition of some kind. And we all need people to come alongside us in the same manner of encouragement and support.

Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Simply put, we all have the power to impact others.

Who in your life needs some reassuring today? Who do you know that needs someone to come alongside them and encourage them? What person in your world needs some comforting?

Go make an impact on someone today!

THE MALAISE OF MEDIOCRITY

There are 35 college football bowl games this year.

No, that’s not a typo. I said THIRTY FIVE. This has gotten ridiculous. How I long for the days 30 years ago when there were only 12 bowl games.

As I was perusing the schedule of games and teams this year, I found myself shaking my head at the teams who made it to a bowl game with a 6-6 record. I watched one of these teams play this week and was quickly amused when the camera panned the crowd. It seemed these fans of these mediocre teams still believed they were “number 1” because that’s what they were shouting at the camera for all the world to see.

Really?

Seriously?

You’re number 1? How? In what way? Your team has 6 wins and 6 losses this year.

I’m still shaking my head.

Why do we feel such a need in this country to celebrate mediocrity? Why does a team that has a .500 record deserve to play beyond their regular season? Why does the office worker get a bonus when he doesn’t meet the expectations of his job? Why does the teacher get tenured when she is subpar at best?

Because we celebrate mediocrity. We don’t confront it. We don’t tackle it. We don’t even try to correct it. We celebrate it. It’s like a disease that we cannot shake. And unfortunately we’ve gotten so good at it that it has become the norm. Anything less than celebrating mediocrity is nowadays called criticism.

When will we return to the days of addressing shabby work? When will we confront continued weaknesses and call them what they are? When will we do what needs to be done to conquer sloppiness, ineptness, incompetence, and mediocrity? When will we care enough about the future of our businesses, homes, churches, schools, and communities to demand excellence?

The maliaise of mediocrity is unmercifully meandering through much of America. Watch out…you may be its next victim!

THE DREADED “3-AND-OUT”

3-and-out. It’s a phrase you hear frequently during the span of a football game. It’s when the offense runs three consecutive plays, fails to make a first down, then has to punt the ball to the other team. If the three offensive plays are viable attempts to make a first down, I don’t have a problem with that. But when all three plays are weak, conservative, pointless, and in no way setting the team up for success on the subsequent play, that’s when I have a problem.

I mean, think about it…if on 1st down the offense runs the ball up the middle for no gain, then why repeat that same play for 2nd and 3rd downs? It’s not successful. It did nothing to gain ground. It didn’t set the offense up for success on the next down. The same line of thinking applies on 2nd down. If the effort on 2nd down isn’t intentional about either gaining a 1st down or setting the team up for success on 3rd down, then it was equally as futile. 

It drives me crazy to watch teams “vegetate” for 3 straight downs. Sometimes it looks as if the offense isn’t even trying. It appears as if they’re perfectly fine with little effort, little action, little intentionality, and little time spent working towards success. 

As a matter of fact, it drives me crazy in sports, education, church, business, and life in general to watch the “vegetative” state triumph. I’m certainly not an expert, a guru, or an authority on any of the previously mentioned categories, but honestly I think there’s some simplicity in creating success. Unfortunately we tend to complicate the process. We over-analyze, micro-manage, and inundate w/ too many steps. We have lengthy, complex, and wide-ranging goals. And all of these things can impede our progress, thus creating the “vegetative” state that often produces no gain. 

In the simplest form, these three plays will help ensure success: 

1)    Define the goal—ask yourself, “What one thing do I want to accomplish? What one thing do I want to achieve? What’s my one objective?”

2)    Devise a plan—clearly define steps that move your team from point A to point B (from where you are to where you want to be)

3)    Execute—don’t just talk about it, BE about it! Move forward and carry out your plan. 

No more 3-and-out!

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