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Monday, October 13, 2008

It's all about winning

Clemson University, which is the big-time sports school closest to where I live, fired its head football coach, Tommy Bowden, today. (Or, possibly, he resigned.)

Why do most major colleges have a football program? There are several possible benefits. A football program can attract students, including non-athletes. A football program can provide a way to experience higher education for students who might not have such a privilege otherwise. It provides visibility with the public. It enhances alumni and community interest and loyalty. It generates revenue.

All of these, however, are usually subservient to winning. Clemson was ranked in the top ten in the country before the season started. Whatever that means! One thing it means is that there are high expectations. The expectations were not meant. If you, by chance, are a Clemson football fan, you know all about the current record. If you aren't, you probably don't care about this topic at all, or at least you don't care about the details. Suffice it to say that Clemson is 3-3 on the season, with two of those victories against much weaker opponents. That wasn't enough winning. Bowden announced, a couple of days ago, that his starting quarterback would not start the next game. That wasn't enough change, apparently.

Tommy Bowden is said to be a Christian, and there is good evidence that he is, even though he made at least one decision that Christians might question. (See under Sports, in this previous post.) Can a Christian participate, as a player, trainer, cheerleader, coach, or official, in big-time sports? Of course. But, as in all endeavors, even church, we must be careful to put the first things first. Winning isn't everything. Following Christ is. Sometimes that means games won, sometimes not. Sometimes it means more people in church, bigger buildings, fancier worship programs, sometimes not.

Tommy Bowden couldn't go out there and block for his team. He couldn't catch some of the balls that were dropped. He has now been dropped himself. God's best, whatever it is, to him and his team. I have never attended a game he coached, but have watched several of them. (Having at least $4,000,000 in severance pay will help to cushion the blow, I'm sure.)

Thanks for reading.


Keetha said...

I love Tommy Bowden.

I think it's a sad day.

Martin LaBar said...

He seems to have been a nicer guy than a lot of football coaches. But it was, ultimately, about winning.