Every other week in The Coach’s Box, Timothy Thomas explores the various lessons that can be learned from the world of sports.

Sports news and stories change quickly. It’s impossible to cover everything with a deep culturally analytical lens in the short span of time that headlines and games are always moving. As a coach, I figured this would be a good time for us to have a little practice.

With the plethora of stories worth covering here’s a chance for you to get in the game and think critically about sports culture. We usually see a headline on social media or television, make a quick judgment, and then move along. The key is to approach each story with a Christ-inspired perspective to help you elevate the beauty and parse out the detriment embedded within each headline.

MLB Playoffs

The Major League Baseball Playoffs are in full-swing (no pun intended) and just like every year, there are storylines coming to a head as (at the time of writing this) eight teams battle for the chance to play in the World Series. I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically watch too much baseball during the regular season. But during the playoffs, my wife and I tune in for the high stakes competition. 

My casual participation made me think about baseball’s “real fans” and how it makes them feel when people like my wife and I tune in and add our opinions and judgements for each team. I imagine it’s similar to when I first started attending church regularly and enthusiastically, and people would show up only for Easter or Christmas. Not only that, but some would also have something to say about the holidays being pagan in nature and offer all these critiques of the Church even though they only came once or twice a year.

I would get annoyed, but I don’t anymore. I just see these people as myself, a casual baseball fan when it only matters most. For my “real” baseball fans, does this type of behavior annoy you?

Davante Adams Shoves a Photojournalist After Loss

On Monday Night Football, Las Vegas Raiders standout wide receiver Davante Adams huffed off the field at Arrowhead Stadium to the locker room after their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. In mid-stride, a photojournalist walked in front of Adams and was shoved by the all-pro receiver and fell to the ground. Adams paused then proceeded to walk in the locker room. Adams later tweeted a heartfelt apology. 

Unfortunately, the photojournalist pressed charges, accusing Adams of severely injuring him. Commentators are calling it a money grab by the photojournalist. And the Worlds of Fun Kansas City theme park also banned Adams from their amusement park for good measure (as if Adams had ever been or desired to visit a theme park in Kansas City).

Consequences are consequences. But when is a consequence unjust or unfair? How do we judge that? We’ve all been in circumstances and made choices we immediately regretted. How do you hope to be treated in those instances? So for Adams, what is fair and just in this case?

Draymond Green Punches Teammate

Four-time NBA champion Draymond Green got into an altercation with up-and-coming superstar teammate Jordan Poole at practice. The altercation resulted in Green approaching Poole, Poole shoving Green, and Green then knocking Poole out in the middle of practice. Green was dismissed from the team for a short period and fined by the Warriors organization. 

Green is heading into the final years of his contract and there’s speculation that the Warriors leaked the footage of Green punching Poole to justify removing or trading him. While Green is a respected veteran, he’s also known to be a hothead. With Poole proving that his youth and talent are assets the Warriors will want to keep around, it’s possible emotions got the best of Green.

So similar to Davante Adams’ shove, Green’s knee-jerk response to punch Poole might cost him. How much does this Green-Poole situation differ from Adams’? Is it different at all? And what does the Bible have to say about the importance of self-control and restraint in situations like these?

Brett Favre Insists Innocence in Stealing From Poor Mississippians

If you haven’t heard by now, legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was caught stealing welfare funds reserved for the poorest Mississippians. In a large-scale embezzlement scheme involving politicians, it was revealed that Favre knowingly requested and received money for miscellaneous endeavors—like a new volleyball stadium for the University of Southern Mississippi where his daughter plays volleyball.

Even with the trove of evidence proving that Favre knew what he was doing, the former superstar insisted on his innocence to Fox News Digital. He claimed he’s being attacked and smeared by the media for his views. The issue is obviously much bigger than Favre, but he’s become the investigation’s mascot.

It makes me wonder how many other unjust actions have taken place that have not been uncovered. It’s a stark reminder for us that our secret sins may not always stay secret, and why it’s urgent for us to confess our sins to the One who’s able to forgive them.

The Redeem Team on Netflix

As a coach, The Redeem Team is the best sports-related film I’ve watched in a while. It’s a 98-minute-long documentary covering the rise, fall, and redemption of the USA Olympic basketball team. 

In an American culture that elevates individual success and lauds superstar skill above sacrifice, this documentary was a refreshing reminder that the effectiveness of a team benefits more from relying on each other and working together than just shining the spotlight on one superstar individual. 

Watching the greatest basketball players of this era—including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwayne Wade—learn to depend on each other gave me chills. It reminded me of the many ways we are wired to depend on one another, not just in the body of Christ but in the broader human race, as well.