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Unsportsmanlike Conduct

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Unsportsmanlike Conduct

 By Earl Utter

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Ephesians 4:26 – In your anger do not sin:Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Matthew 12: 34 – For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

Ephesians 4:31 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

James 23:6 – The tongue also is a fire,a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body,sets the whole course of one’s life on fire.

Ephesian 5:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

     It seems to me that in sports as in society, there is almost an expectation to question authority. Referee, police, government official or parent, it makes no difference. It appears that we are expected to question calls, tickets, policies or decisions.

     In hockey, a sport that gives a major award to the most sportsmanlike player, we are almost given a free pass to chirp the officials, other players or other coaches. Sometimes, when we complain so vehemently or say something inappropriate we can be given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

    As a Christian coach, I am ashamed to say that I have collected my share of bench minors for something that I have said to an official. Sometimes, that penalty would come back to hurt our team and sometimes not. After one particular incident when my pastor and members of my church were at a game I was coaching, and received and unsportsmanlike penalty. I was filled with shame and a great deal of guilt. I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me. I knew this was a wrong behavior, but it was hockey, that’s what we’re supposed to do.

     What was causing this unsportsmanlike conduct? Was it anger at the players, bad officiating, or did I just get up on the wrong side of the bed. It could be a combination of all three, but at the root of the unsportsmanlike penalty was a wicked heart. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? - Jerimah17:9. The tongue, that little sword sheathed behind our pearly whites, is the projector we use to display the thoughts of our heart. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth. - James 3:5.

     Conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit lead me to contemplate my situation and ask God for guidance on how to deal with my coaching frustrations. My flesh and my heart faileth; But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever - Psalm 73:26. I asked for forgiveness for sinning against Him by not using the gift He gave me to be a witness to the players, administrators, and parents whom He put me in the presence of.

     If you find yourself collecting Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, don’t be dismayed. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness - 1 John 1:9.  Confess your situation to Christ. Ask for forgiveness, search the scriptures, and pray. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him - James 1:5.  The greatest coach in the universe will forgive you and give you the guidance you seek.

Discussion questions

1. How many unsportsmanlike penalties have you received? What was the result?

2. When you participate in a hockey game or practice, do you think about the fact that you are witnessing with your performance? Why or why not?

3. Can you get mad in a game without sinning? How?

4. Are your actions or words hurt your Christian witness? How or how not?

5. Do you turn your heart over to God and tell Him you struggle with actions or language and ask for him to change you?

Extra reading

Ephesians 5: 10 – 18

James 1: 2 – 5

1 Peter 3: 8 - 12



7 comments (Add your own)

1. Paul wrote:
Great stuff Earl. Thank you for putting that together, I especially like the questions.

Wed, February 25, 2015 @ 2:48 PM

2. Oca wrote:
Muschamp has been a very lucky coach in 2012. He caught A&M early, his plerays played over their head against LSU .FSU remains ACC caliber .lets face it, blocking a punt against Lafayette hyphen Louisiana .scoring late against Jacksonville State to make it 23-0 these are the games that fans should be concerned. To win National Championships, one must play at a high level, well-prepared EVERY game. The Gators have talent .not sure having a lunatic as a HC makes for Champions ..UF could have done better .way better, and eventually they will. Go Gators!

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