From Trent Ling:
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11.
Childhood is great. Unless you are old! Hate to break the news, but childhood comes to an end at some point. A Scripturally serious, internal transition must occur in all. Someone 36 years old cannot forever act fourteen forever, can he? Nowhere are stunted maturities so obvious as when grown people rise and fall personally with the fates of their sports teams.
I recall living and dying with the 1974 and 1976 Boston Celtics (seven-game NBA Finals winners over Abdul-Jabbar’s Milwaukee and six-game Champions over upstart Phoenix), the 1977 Miss Budweiser hydroplane (anything that could go wrong did go wrong, but it still gutted out the national championship), the 1978 Boston Red Sox (two heartbreaking words: “Bucky Dent”), and George Allen’s over-the-hill-gang Redskins throughout the NFL’s 1970’s. From age five to fifteen, my overreaching enthusiasm was understandable, wonderful, and memorable. I learned grand and indispensable lessons of loyalty, unity, identification, victory, defeat, and heartache at appropriately tender ages. Hallelujah!
However, a problem arises when we grow up chronologically, but cannot muster enough of a life to wind down childhood fantasies. I should know. I too acted like a baby long past my allotted seasons. Today, those “living” out their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s seemingly cannot get enough of sport, and they show a perpetual childlike adulation for it. For adults, must there not be something to do, be, or become other than donning team garb and hollering at the television? Surely, wonderful childhood learning curves supplied by passionate team affiliations should have already run their entire courses by now. Do not sully them by getting stuck in them (even as gray hairs arrive).
Duke University’s men’s basketball team has won four national championships across recent tournament history. Between being a student there when the Blue Devils captured their first title in 1991, and being an aged alumnus enjoying, in person, the team’s launch toward its latest title in 2010, the requisite transformation from a rabid groupie to a wishing-them-well geezer has been fully completed. The Duke program shines and represents the gold standard of college athletics. I wish it the best, and hope its effort and example will receive appropriate reward and recognition. But, my days, my hopes, and my thoughts certainly no longer hinge on whether the ball goes through the “right” basket. In fact, while many felt shame over Duke’s first-round loss to no-name Lehigh in last year’s March Madness, I was thrilled to see two bona fide academic schools compete at college basketball’s highest level. Such is how grown-ups should view things. We must leave the neediness of adolescents to the years of adolescence!
So, wish your people well. Watch them from afar, here and there. And glean and enjoy the plentiful goodness and nobleness from their efforts. Going further, put down the clicker, retire the team uniform, look around you, and point your attentions and efforts toward the compelling matters of grown men. For you should have long ago bid a fond farewell to childish days and ways.
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