Playing Big With Little People

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      April 15, 2012

Saturday morning I was at the soccer game that the daughter of my nephew was playing in. She’s in third grade, which translated means that most of the parents there had cups of Starbucks coffee in their hands, or coffee staying hot in a thermos. (I waited until after the game to go to Starbucks! Willpower!)

Gracie had a great time playing, as did all of the kids. No one had told them yet that “This is serious business…so wipe that smile off your face!”

Meanwhile, something else caught my attention. On the field right behind us a game involving four year old’s was taking place. One of the coaches was an African-American man who was so big he looked by a tree house that the kids could climb on. I’m guessing…and I believe I’m quite accurate on this one…that he played football. He was so big that he could have played Right Guard…and Left Guard …on the same play.

And he was having a ball! And because he was having a ball the players on both teams were having a ball! One time I looked over and he was dangling a young boy upside down. I’m not even sure it was a player on his own team, but the boy was laughing and in a moment of “life delight!”

The coach congratulated and high-fived players on both teams. He helped little girls who tripped back on their feet. He shouted encouragement.

He played big with the little people. He inspired me!

As a coach I get the tremendous privilege of influencing young people, helping them improve their skills, learn from their mistakes, mentor them in life lessons through the lens of a game. I fan the flame of their passion for the game, while not losing sight of their youthfulness.

Although I’m not as big as the soccer coach of the four year old’s, in some ways I get to play big with the little people. I get to guide them in having fun.

In the youth sports culture we’ve lost most of that.

Like the coach who has his sixth grade girls’ basketball team press their opponents full-court even though they are up by thirty at the start of the fourth quarter.

Or the coach who plays his main group and then when, because of a mandatory league rule, he puts the last kid on the bench in to pinch hit, he commands him not to swing at any pitch because the player never makes contact. He robs him of the sound of a baseball meeting wood, because he’s short-sighted.

Or the coach who had no success as an athlete growing up, so he’s going to win at any cost with the youth team he’s coaching now.

Or the two coaches who get into a fight after the game in front of their players, who all stand there with mouths wide open in shock.

The list could go on for pages. Somewhere and at sometime we lost the thrill and sheer joy of playing big with the little people.

The joy of playing children is a sign of the blessing of God upon Jerusalem in the Old Testament book of Zechariah (chapter 8). In The Message paraphrase of Zechariah 8:4 it says, “And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing- a good city to grow up in.”

I love that! I pray that we regain that scene.

I hope I run into “the man child” again at the next soccer outing. I’m going to tell him how he inspired me, how he brought a smile to my face, how his “playing big” brought a little glimpse of God’s delight!

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Faith, Parenting, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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One Comment on “Playing Big With Little People”

  1. Charly Says:

    That is sooooooooo true…. It’s really nice to hear that there are still people out there who care more about the kids then the sport. Next time you see “Big Guy” Tell him thanks from me too.


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