My children have been in Christian school all of their lives save for just a couple of years when they were very young, years that we homeschooled them. For our family, it was worth every sacrifice along the way to make this possible, and we are thrilled both with the superb education they received and the godly environment they were in while they received it.
Sports always played a big role in the lives of my kids. Both Christian schools they attended and attend had great athletic programs, and my kids enjoyed basketball, volleyball and other sports along the way.
Due to these sports programs, we have had many home games and have also traveled far and wide to other Christian schools for games. This is to say that I have seen tens of thousands of Christian parents and family and friends in the tense environment of athletic contests through the years. And it is in the midst of all of those games that I have perhaps come to understand why a rather persnickety old man from the days of my youth usually called sports either basket-Baal or foot-Baal or base-Baal or some other form of the name of that idolatrous deity of yore.
I am fairly certain that when he spoke of sports in those terms, he was noticing the propensity people had to place sports above attendance in the house of God. But in Christian school that is never the issue. No, my thoughts along those lines deal with how very common it seems for professing Christians (even preachers!) to make absolute heathens of themselves while attending an athletic contest in which their children or their school or their church is engaged.
I literally cannot print many of the words I have heard people shriek.
To be completely fair, I must say that the vast, vast majority of parents and fans and coaches at Christian school or church athletic contests are absolutely wonderful. They never insult, certainly never curse, never make threats, and they behave themselves in a manner that Christ himself would be pleased with.
But from time to time I do have to shake my head with what I see and hear from the tiny, vocal, carnal minority.
Referees obviously take most of the brunt of the ill treatment. For the life of me, I cannot begin to imagine why anyone would willingly do a job in which no matter what you do or do not do, at least half of the people are going to hate and berate you. But what I really cannot imagine is why any Christian would insult or threaten a referee, thereby ensuring that if he or she ever does darken the doors of a church, it certainly won't be theirs. I can only wonder what it would be like to say some vile or insulting thing to a referee and then be the door greeter the following Sunday morning when he walks in for a visit.
There are other things I have trouble understanding. For instance, if parents are truly concerned with fairness, why do I never hear any of them ever screaming "Hey! My kid fouled that other kid! Are you blind? Could you not see that? Call a foul on my kid!" It is almost as if little Bill is actually little Baal to them, a ball deity incapable of error and deserving of worship.
I was speaking to a referee recently before a game, and the subject of attitudes came up. He said some of the most gut-wrenching words I have ever heard. "I do high school ball, college ball, Christian and public. But by far, the worst-behaved people I ever have to deal with are in church-league basketball."
It seems there may be something to that basket-Baal thing Mr. Persnickety used to rail on.
Thinking through possible solutions to the problem, it occurs to me that perhaps an in-stand cattle-prod seat system with a central control unit may do the trick. Simply have one person in a control box observing all that is happening. When he sees someone making a donkey out of him or herself, he can press the button for their seat, starting with maybe a three of 10 on the dial, enough to cause some mild discomfort, but no injury. If the behavior persists and increases, the dial can, one incident after another, move on up toward 10, which should perhaps result in uncontrollable drooling and maybe just the slightest smoking of the hair follicles.
Or in lieu of that, maybe everyone could just abide by the words of Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
That does sound a lot less painful and far less expensive than the in-stand cattle-prod seat system.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.