Monday, February 15, 2010


Victory is one of my favorite parts about the Olympics. You get to see it every one of these "16 Days of Glory" as medals are won and celebrated. But, there are other deeper victories to be honored too. They are the victories that remind us about the truly important things in life. They remind us of the most important victories.

Having tragedy strike at the Olympics is emotionally wrenching. When I heard that Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili had lost his life in a training accident in Vancouver it broke my heart.

I love the Olympics. I love how people all over the world come together peacefully and compete. That tragedy strikes at these amazing events is a difficult reality to swallow.

I am reminded of the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Just prior to that summer I had done a research paper on past Olympic tragedies and security issues. Mexico City where students died during a public demonstration, and of course the 1972 games in Munich where a massacre of Israeli athletes at the hands of terrorists were particularly painful events. So, these tragedies and the need to avoid such incidents were in my mind watching the Atlanta games.

I recall watching that night in Atlanta shocked to hear about the bombing. I stayed up most of the night wanting to hear any updates. The next day it rained. I watched the heptathlon event with Jackie Joyner Kersee who was in so much obvious pain. I remember thinking that it was so symbolic for how the Olympics felt that day, the heavens cried and the pain was real. Jackie pulled out of the event, at the request of her husband/coach. A few days later she came back and earned what I consider to be one of the greatest bronze medals ever in the long jump. Again it felt symbolic, she was injured but was healing and she had overcome. It felt like the Olympics could heal too, and overcome the tragedy. Sometimes after great tragedies come the greatest triumphs. Victory does not mean ease, in fact it often means there is a struggle prior. But, good can come out of sorrow and pain. In fact Paul in Romans testified to the fact that all things can work together for our good.

As I said the luge accident broke my heart. And still the event seems rather raw and bitterly, somberly painful. The victory that follows such a tragedy might be hard to find right now. Perhaps one can glean some comfort in knowing Nodar Kumaritashvili was fulfilling his dream, he was an Olympian, that victory can never be taken away from him. Perhaps there is a sense of victory in knowing that so many people all across the world united in prayer and well wishing for those affected. It is my dearest wish that his family and other loved ones felt some measure of comfort as a result of those prayers. That certainly would be a victory. I hope they find healing. Healing and victory are often related and exist together. I hope the family heals, I hope his teammates heal.

Is Nodar in a better place? Of course he is, but that knowledge doesn't take away the sting of loss. As I said before victory reminds us of the most important victory. That victory lies in the victory of Christ over physical and spiritual death. This for Nodar and for all of us is the key. So, I say to Nodar rest on my dear young Olympian. Rest on in the victory of The Savior who provides for us all that death cannot last for He overcame it. Knowing you are safely with Him makes your tragedy a little less tragic, though it certainly doesn't mean you won't be missed terribly. Your life leaves a mark on those who knew you personally. But, it also leaves a mark on all of us who watch the Olympics. Because of you we know that dreams can come true. Rest on blessed and safe and free forever more and of course victorious. Rest in peace.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Team USA: So Great a Cause

Alright so guess what starts on Friday? The Winter Olympics!!! Guess who likes the Olympics?

Of course that might be really obvious by the fact that I've written about the Olympics before and by the fact that I have one of the more famous Olympic songs on my blog playlist. But, just in case, yeah that's me, I'm a huge fan of the Olympics. I'm way excited! I love all the awesome stories that come out of it, regardless of which countries they come from. But, I root for Team USA no matter what. So, though I doubt any Olympic athletes read my blog I want to make sure I put it out there. Have an amazing time, do your best, God bless, and I'm cheering you on, no matter what the outcome.

Writing about sports gives me the chance to draw upon some of my Sport Psychology background, and as I was thinking about Team USA I thought of some things I could write for the entire Team USA, as a nation. Jeff Janssen is a huge name in Sport Psychology and he has done some great work particularly with teams. He wrote a book called Championship Team Building which included the "seven C's". I'd like to address those in regards to USA. United we stand right? That makes us a team :)

1) Common Goal- That one is easy to find in the Preamble to our Constitution. "WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." That outlines our common goal, and indeed the great cause that is America. The blessings of liberty must be secured and to do that this magnificent Constitution must be upheld. We are free to become our greatest selves. Can mankind attain their proper character by force? Of course not, it must be done through a lifetime of trial and triumph. In order to grow one must cherish and protect freedom. That than is our cause, that than is what unites us.

2) Commitment- We know how committed our Founding Fathers were. They mutually pledged "to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor." How willing are we to do the same in order to preserve our sacred Union and our sacred foundations? I certainly see the example of our soldiers as the paramount one. They are willing to die for this cause. How about us though? We should be willing to give everything we can, not just for our own sakes but for the sake of coming generations. We need to commit ourselves to live and die for the cause of freedom. How willing are you to make personal sacrifices so that future generations don't have to deal with the tyranny of huge government or the tyranny of debt? If you feel that commitment than stand up, and make your voice heard, in whichever way suits you best.

3) Complementary Roles- What role should each of us endeavor to play in this cause? Whichever ones we feel most compelled to do. For some that will mean taking up some leadership roles. For others it will be being a support for good and honest leaders. Some speak with loud megaphones, some just share a conversation on the telephone. Regardless whatever role we have we should do it to our utmost. We need to be informed and we need to share that information with those around us. We all have a part to play. So, play to your strengths, and shore up your weaknesses. Find your voice, and use it.

4) Clear Communication- Oh yes, this is an incredibly important one. Our Founders thought communication was so important that they made sure that free speech and freedom of the press were specifically outlined in the Bill of Rights. Now, I won't go into too much about the media other than to say they have dropped the ball (reminder this whole post was supposed to have some sport element to it) big time. They were supposed to be our protectors against the government they have instead chosen a side and become cheerleaders. Well, I call *FOUL* It now falls to us the people to do our utmost to inform ourselves. We still have freedom of speech, so we use it. Discover the truth and share it. Now, another really important part of communication is listening. That is especially imperative in the next "C".

5) Constructive Conflict- Is conflict going to happen in this Team we call USA? Duh, of course it will. In fact our Founders were counting on it, they established a problem solving wing and a conservative wing for our government. They wanted to make sure maximum freedom would be upheld and protected and they knew sometimes that would require change. And for change to happen requires some discussion (sometimes it gets a little bit conflicty). They also set up in the Constitution the brilliant process of amending. The most key component to resolving conflict is listening. Conflict happens when 2 or more parties are sending a message and nobody is receiving it. So, somebody has to start receiving. Now, I for one have been listening rather intently to what our government is saying, because I want to know what they have planned. But, I do not stand alone in realizing they are not listening to us. And they wonder why there are some feeling a little contentious these days. Listen. Listen. Listen. There are solutions out there that would be beyond compromise they could actually be collaborative. But, government YOU HAVE TO LISTEN. The Conservative voice needs to be heard, that is the way it was set up.

6) Cohesion- Cohesion occurs when there is a genuine respect and time shared with one another. We need to get to know America better. We do that by getting to know Americans. We need to recognize that the greatness of America really lies in the genuiness and reality of American lives. Get to know your neighbors. Have open discussions with them. Unite with people on principles of freedom. Unite with people on caring for our families and for future generations. Forming a "more perfect Union" was not something done just once, its something we must continue to develop. Love each other, be merciful to each other. Regardless of what the government tries to do, do not let them dictate the warm feelings we have for one another.

7) Credible Coaching-

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

In this great cause that is America we have the best coach we could possibly want. We declare IN GOD WE TRUST. Why do we do so? Because we know it is from Him, that we have our rights. God has given us life, it is thus an inalienable right. To take that away would be a violation of divine right. God gave us the power to direct our lives. Thus liberty is an inalienable right. To constrain our agency is a violation of divine law. God gave us the ability to attain things in this life, including knowledge and property, those things which will help us most to grow. To rob us of our property is a violation of divine law. There are of course just causes to which rights can be infringed, but only when an individual or entity has used their rights to infringe on another, or when those rights are given up voluntarily for securing our freedoms. Having a government decide they know what is best for us is not a just cause to infringe upon our rights. It is an offense to our divine rights and our divine nature. The government is not the coach, they are not the ones in whom we trust. God created man, man created government. Man can be divinely inspired in the creation. But, it comes to the same end. For government to control mankind is an offense to Divinity and to us as His children. Again there are times when we willingly and freely give of some of our property in order to secure our freedoms. However, when government TAKES freedom to ensure security therein lies the error. Therein lies the seeds of tyranny.

We have our credible coach. It is the God in whom we trust. We need as a nation to remember where we came from, and to remember that He has given us our rights and has prescribed measures to best progress individually. But, we are free to do what we will with those rights. In order to best ensure ours and our children's freedom we must turn back to God, our Head Coach.

Well, there you have it. So, in these next couple of weeks Go Team USA!! And in our lifetimes, Go Team USA!! We have the ability to be the very best team. Our cause is just, our cause is great. It is to stand united in defending liberty for us and for our posterity Let us unite in so great a cause. Ready. . . Break!