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A Feel Good Story, No Matter What the Outcome

If you are sports fan, then you understand the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.  However, some cities tend to be tough luck losers, as if a curse is preventing their team from becoming champions.  The nice thing above the 2016 Major League Baseball World Series is that one of two lovable losers will be victorious.  Over the next 5 days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will break droughts that have lasted a generation or two.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

On the road to becoming champions, those who finish second are scorned, often labeled as chokers, failures or second losers.  Instead of enjoying the journey like the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League, who is the only team to make it to 4 consecutive Super Bowls, the final score devalue their achievement.  Unfortunately, professional sports is a results driven industry causing feel good stories to be ruined by impatient fans, managers and owners.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

As I look back at my own athletic career, one of my most memorable moments occurred in the least likely of venues.  This didn’t occur during my brief professional golf career or playing Ultimate Frisbee in college.  Rather, my most gratifying experience came in a competitive men’s softball league.  Similar to the character played by Kevin Costner in For the Love of the Game, I played every out like it was my last game.  Whether you call this playing the game the right way or not, I found contentment no matter what the outcome.

by Jay Mankus




The Cruel Reality of Sports

When the clock strikes zero at the end of any competition, their is usually a winner and loser.  Though a regular season game may result in a tie, in the playoffs, this isn’t an option.  Whether you’re talking about the National Championship, Super Bowl or Olympics, only one team or individual will walk off as the victor.

From a personal perspective, I once blew an eight shot lead during the Club Championship; then lost in an 18 hole playoff.  When things start to slip away, as momentum goes in the opponents direction, a helpless feeling grips your body.  This tide often results in the agony of defeat, something I’ve tasted on numerous occasions.  Unfortunately, this is the cruel reality of sports.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. – 1 Corinthians 9:25

Therefore, as Ohio State and Oregon fans go to sleep tonight, one will celebrate into the midnight hours while the loser will ponder what could have been.  For the senior players, several will be playing their final game, trading in their jerseys for a career in their field of study.  Perhaps, this is why the apostle Paul wrote the words of 1 Corinthians 9:25.  Like of the motto of Little League, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game!”  May these words stick with you the next time you experience the cruel reality of sports.

by Jay Mankus

The Sound of Defeat

Silence, groans and hushed voices are just a few signs of losing.  Meanwhile, body language slumps, slows down and expresses defeat without a word.  On Sunday evening, around 9:45 pm Eastern Standard Time, the sound of defeat will visit one sideline after the final seconds tick off the clock in Super Bowl XLVIII.  As confetti falls, cameras flash and reporters get their microphones ready to interview the champions, the loser will slip away in obscurity, pondering what might have been.

In the arena of life, the sound of defeat is less subtle.  Sure, there will always be Debbie downers and depressed Davids, yet most will hide their emotions until no one is around or only their family is in view.  However, in sports, the agony of defeat occurs under a microscope, often with life shattering results.  Skip Dillard went to prison because he missed 1 free throw in an NCAA Basketball Tournament Game as a star for the Depaul Blue Demons.  Tonya Harding turned to thuggery in an attempt to win an Olympic Gold medal in figure skating.  Finally, Donavon McNabb, upchucked as the closing moments of the Super Bowl got too big for him, beyond what he could handle.

In biblical times, there was a different sound heard by Joshua and Moses as each had their own suspicion.  From afar, Joshua heard what sounded like the sound of war in Exodus 32:17.  Stepping in like a Jedi Knight, playing a similar role to Yoda, Moses corrects this young rising star, “It’s not the sound of victory, it’s the sound of defeat;” Exodus 32:18.”  Perhaps Moses understood the concept of 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, with 1 winner and multiple losers.  Therefore, instead of resting in a pit of despair, pick your head up out of the gutter and focus on a crown that will last forever so that the sound of defeat doesn’t cripple your soul for a lifetime.

by Jay Mankus


Watching sports on high definition televisions can create a front row atmosphere, experiencing the thrill of victory and agony of defeat as if you are in attendance.  Amazing upsets like the 1980 U.S. Hockey team stunning the U.S.S.R. in the semi-finals of the Olympics brought you inside the Lake Placid arena.  Americans celebrated in the streets as if they were on the winning team, uniting a nation during the Cold War.  This is how I felt yesterday, as I watched Phil Mickelson do the unthinkable, shooting a final round 66, 5 under par in extreme conditions, to win his first Open Championship and 5th major overall.

1 day ago
One month after failing to win the United States Open, finishing second to Justin Rose for a record 6th time in this event, Phil reached a career low.  According to his wife Amy, Phil didn’t get out of bed for 2 days, crushed by another disappointing loss.  Based upon her interview on the Golf Channel and ESPN, Phil suffered from a severe depression similar to that of David in Psalm 32:3-4.  While a family vacation to Montana did the trick for Phil, sensing the grace, forgiveness and reconciliation of God fulfills a sinners heart.

According to the dictionary, perseverance means “to be steadfast in doing something despite any difficulties or delays in achieving success”.  Whether you are an athlete, businessman, student or writer, failure, rejection and setbacks are par for the course.  Reaching your dreams and goals in life is not a walk in the park.  Rather, one should expect to face mountains, obstacles and valleys to pass before you experience the summit of success.  Therefore, if you have recently endured a heart breaking loss, don’t waste another day pouting.  Instead, get up from the ground, say a prayer like Psalm 4:1 and ask God for a spirit of tenacity to achieve the abundant life, John 10:10.  In doing this, may you be ful-phil-ed.

by Jay Mankus

Tasting Victory

From a sports psychology perspective, individuals or teams can quickly recover from a single loss. However, when consecutive losses accumulate, its easy to forget how to win as losing develops into a mindset which is tough to snap out of. Since confidence is directly linked to success, if you don’t taste victory for an extended period of time, finding ways to lose friends, games or respect can become the norm.

As a coach of youth, middle and high school team sports for nearly 15 years, I’ve experienced the thrill of victory and agony of defeat. I’ve witnessed teams one win away from the state tournament collapse, falling apart moments before obtaining victory. Meanwhile, I’ve seen one of my teams develop a winning attitude which ultimately led to a perfect season like the Titans. Belief is often the missing ingredient that prevents individuals from reaching the champion’s podium.

From a personal point of view, winning or losing is in the eye of the beholder. Did you meet your set goals for the day? How you fulfilled the requirements of your job or position? Are you putting out 100 % effort, meeting the tasks facing you with all your heart, soul and mind? Whether you win or lose daily, the Bible talks about how you play the game called life, Colossians 3:17. Therefore, follow the commands set out in Colossians 3 so that sooner or later you will savor the taste of victory.

by Jay Mankus

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