The Monday feature of the Worldly Saints blog focuses on a story from the sports world – current or historic. The goal is one of the following: (1) either to recognize athletes who are using or have used their sports and athletic abilities to further the kingdom of God or (2) to show how some athletes or teams are wasting or did waste their days by not giving God the glory or (3) to simply reflect on a story from the sports world from a Christian perspective.
The Villanova Wildcats. The North Carolina Tar Heels. The Syracuse Orangemen. And … oh yes, I am very thrilled to type the Oklahoma Sooners. Each of these teams are headed to NCAA basketball’s Final Four.
What a year it has been for my Sooners! Of the games I have been able to watch from my basement in Wichita, KS and the one game I watched from a friend’s house, it has been exciting to watch this team.
If you follow basketball at all, you probably know about Buddy Hield. He is our star player and will likely be the National Player of the Year. He is averaging 25 points per game (2nd in the nation). And, oh by the way, this Bahamian played his high school basketball in my hometown of Wichita. So there are many reasons for myself to cheer on Buddy and the Sooners this next weekend.
One of Buddy’s more admirable qualities, or better said, decisions came last year in the Spring when Buddy made the decision to come back to OU to play his senior season. He could have been drafted into the NBA and would have become a millionaire by now, which is what the majority of players of his talent do. However, Buddy decided to skip last year’s draft and play his senior year.
But I learned of another reason about ten months ago when I met a close friend of Buddy’s living in Wichita. This friend told me that Buddy was concerned about not having a degree and not having a plan for “life after basketball.” She told me that Buddy wanted to have a degree in a field (and education is that field) that would allow him to have another career after basketball or somewhere to go if he had to leave the NBA due to an injury.
As you might know, so many professional athletes don’t play very long (The average number of years for a NBA player is 4.8 years.) in their sports field and many of them leave their sport, spending their money foolishly, investing poorly, etc. Many of them have no “real life” after they cannot compete professionally any more. They spend their days of retirement from professional sports indulging their pleasures with every dollar and never contributing back to society.
Buddy’s decision to finish his education and leave OU with a degree shows wisdom and vision, which is what makes a good leader. Good leaders plan their lives as best they can. They anticipate what is coming; they prepare for any danger or challenges ahead; they don’t live in the moment.
I can cheer on leaders. I can cheer for those men and women who are thinking ahead. I can cheer for athletes that I have confidence that will not waste their life, whether they participate in professional sports or not. And Buddy Hield is one such player.