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Character Never Crosses The Line

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Character Never Crosses The Line

Written by Henry Roy

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

Sportsmanship is certainly a well discussed topic and perhaps a bit cliché in modern sports culture. Yet when the anti-thesis is on display, we are reminded of the necessity of accountability to a standard regardless of how cliché it may be. Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of partaking in both of my son's hockey journeys on multiple levels. Throughout those years, I would have thought that there was nothing shocking left for me to see or experience firsthand from a hockey perspective. Of course, that being said, lightning would strike again.

In the final game of my older son's hockey season less than 2 weeks ago, I was witness to one of the most strikingly deficient displays of sportsmanship that I have ever seen on any level. Ironically, the incident did not involve player on player but was instead a player on official event that spread like a disease to the head coach. Said player was called for a straightforward penalty and subsequently refused to proceed to the penalty box and instead headed with speed and venom directly toward the official making the call. He proceeded to verbally threaten the official with his life and beyond. The officiating partner had to step in to provide a buffer of protection for the official. My older son, who was on the ice at the time, later explained that he could not believe what he was hearing coming out of the player's mouth directed toward the official. My son stated the following when speaking with me after the game, "I have heard many things on the ice over the years, but never anything of that magnitude". In response to the attack, the official being threatened then made the decision to call the game as he felt it was not a safe environment for him or the rest of the players. As a spectator at this game, I felt that it was the proper decision as the game was already getting out of hand. My next thought level was aimed toward the coach of the team to see how he would be handling the incident. Unfortunately I was totally dismayed as he not only refused to hold his player accountable for his actions, he proceeded to argue with the official that made the call and verbally depose him as well. This action not only reinforced the actions of his player but spoke loudly to his character as a coach as well.

Character and sportsmanship go hand in hand. One website shed eloquent light on it as follows: "Character is a pattern of behavior, thoughts and feelings based on universal principles, moral strength, and integrity - plus the guts to live by those principles every day. Character is evidenced by your life's virtues and the "line you never cross." Character is the most valuable thing you have, and nobody can ever take it away." The reference to a line you never cross speaks directly to the aforementioned incident as it would have certainly been avoided if that kind of character was on display.

If we as Christian athletes want to display Godly character that is peer-influencing then we must contemplate the genesis of our beliefs and stand firm in those beliefs in all circumstances. The bible speaks about character in a manner that is depictive of how a person or group of people carry themselves (Proverbs 12:4). It is also referenced in a positive or negative manner (I Cor. 15:33). Finally, Romans 5:33-34 provides a basis for the premise that character does not simply appear. It has to be worked out, deliberate and tested to be refined and made genuine. Once it is, it can be a vibrant testimony and allow followers of Christ to be true salt and light.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you thought about what provides the foundation for your character? Is it Godly principles?
  2. Have you ever had to stand firm and not cross the line?
  3. What are you doing to work out your character?

Additional Readings

  1. I Corinthians 15:33-34
  2. Proverbs 12:4

About the Author

Henry Roy grew up in Massachusetts as a sports enthusiast. He played multiple sports during his high school and college years including football, hockey and golf. He spent time in college as a placekicker for Florida State University, where he was first introduced to Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the FSU Chapter huddles. He resides in Massachusetts with his wife Shelly and sons, Jackson and Harrison. His son Jackson has been a participant with FCA Hockey Chowder Cup and Christian Cup teams the past few years. Henry has had the privilege of coaching youth hockey teams from mites to midgets for the past decade and looks to be as involved as possible with FCA Hockey into the future.

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