|Before the season started, Braxton Miller (right) was Ohio State's|
starting quarterback, J.T. Barrett (center) was the backup, and
Cardale Jones (left) was just hoping to see some playing time.
I don’t often write about sports here, but I enjoy how principles that undergird athletic success correlate to virtually every aspect of everyday life. Yes, boorish, ”look at me” behavior displayed by some athletes can be hard to take, but glowing examples of perseverance and determination to triumph over adversity touch our hearts.
Imagine this unlikely scenario: Before the season, a highly regarded college football team loses its star quarterback for the season due to injury. A key defensive player is suspended due to substance abuse and doesn’t see the field all year. The star running back suffers a broken hand he must deal with throughout the season.
|Urban Meyer and MVP running back Ezekiel Elliott|
celebrate the triumphant end to a very unlikely season.
A well-liked walk-on player dies tragically. Then, in the final regular season game against its hated foe, the now star (former second-string) quarterback sustains a broken ankle, forcing the third-string quarterback to step into a pressure-packed, must-win situation.
This young man, who previously had seen only limited action, not only finishes that game but also leads the team to the conference title, then excels during both the College Football Playoff semifinal and championship game victories.
In all likelihood, not even Hollywood would consider a movie script with such an unlikely storyline. “Too unbelievable!” they would say. And yet, that was the story of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who overcame all of the above – and more – to be crowned college football’s national champions by dominating Big Ten foe Wisconsin, SEC champion Alabama, and finally, Oregon and its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Cardale Jones, a 6-5, 250-pound giant of a quarterback, rose from obscurity to fame in the blink of an eye, probably setting a record for shortest transition from “who’s he?” to “Who’s Who.”
Before the season, the OSU players, head coach Urban Meyer and his assistant coaches had met with business consultants Tim Kight and his son, Brian, to learn important lessons in team building. One of the principles involved an equation, E (Event) + R (Response) = O (Outcome). Last August, none of them could have imagined the array of overwhelming events they would have to respond to or what the outcomes would be. But through those circumstances they gained enduring lessons on the value of perseverance and willingness to tackle adversity head-on.
The Bible states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). During the 2014 season the Buckeyes indeed faced trials of many kinds, and the testing of their faith – in each other, their coaches, and for some, their God – developed great perseverance and maturity.
Most of us will never play on a national championship team of any kind, but we will certainly encounter a variety of trials in life. The question is, will we allow our faith to be tested – to reveal what we truly believe – and enable us to develop perseverance that will serve us not only in this life, but also the life to come?