By Clete Hux –

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! This was a well-known quip from an ABC television commercial in the 1970s. It was a time regarded by many to be very unlike today. At that time another adage was heard from fans but especially from coaches. It was this: It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that counts, meaning that life lessons learned through sports were more important than the outcome of a game. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that we have come a long way since those days when such a sentiment prevailed, referring to moral character being most important and how that was to be displayed on the field – win, lose or draw. When is the last time you heard a college football coach affirm this as a timely truth to his players? We don’t anymore.

Times have changed. First of all, there are no more draws. Games no longer end in a tie. There is a winner and a loser—no room for ties! Perhaps without the possibility of a draw, something in the realm of building moral character was also lost. With this change came the mindset that nothing less than victory is acceptable. There is no room for losers. Besides, the difference in a coach keeping his job or losing it these days is gauged by his win or loss column, not by whether or not he teaches or builds good moral character into his players. We hear this repeated over and over by coaches and commentators who affirm that the bottom line is that sports has become a business. In a short period of time the character issue has given way to pragmatism.

It is now common to hear reports of college athletes out past curfew (if there is one imposed at all), getting caught by police with drugs and/or guns – not to mention rampant sexual misconduct (remember the Baylor situation). And while the coaching staff imposes disciplinary actions on the player(s), it seems that the degree of correction depends on whether or not the player is first team or third team. It is easier to let a third teamer go. If the question of discipline is raised, we are told that it is being handled “in house”, meaning it is none of our business. The win/lose— keep my job/lose my job—scenario seems to be the bottom line. Plus, big time programs pay their coaches big bucks to win, which is the bottom line. Again, the issue of moral character is not the issue.

With the loss of sensitivity to morality and character development, it seems that Christian athletes and coaches are no longer acting as role models. Why have they been silent? At a time when we need them the most the pressure to conform to the culture is quite significant. We are in the midst of a sexuality revolution in the name of equality and civil rights. This revolution is happening by means of the LGBTQ culture promoted by such organizations as the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) and the Arcus Foundation. ( See & )

As a society we should ask ourselves, “Why is it that we once embraced a stronger moral standard than we do today? Why is it that not only is homosexuality accepted but it is encouraged? Why is it that coaches and players who at one time may have opposed this cultural shift are seemingly now part of the problem?” Some are even going out of their way to speak in favor of things that will move us increasingly into this sexually progressive inclusive culture.

For some time now tensions have been growing over the North Carolina HB2 bill that requires transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex, not their gender identity. In reaction to this bill, the NCAA recently announced that it would move seven championship events out of the state. Following suit, the NBA announced that it is relocating its All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans.(See )

Also, Mike Krzyzewski, legendary Duke coach, has endorsed the NCAA’s decision to basically boycott North Carolina when he said that HB2 is embarrassing..(See Even Michael Jordan is on the same side of the issue with the Duke coach, NBA, and NCAA.(See

An interesting yet sensible rebuke to the NCAA came very quickly from the state GOP spokesperson Kami Mueller: “This is so absurd it’s almost comical. I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms. This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation. If you are unwilling to have women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, how do you have a women’s team? I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political pea-cocking and instead focus their energies on making sure that our nation’s collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field.”

We are living in a day when a homosexual “coming out” is in vogue and being transgender is the “in” thing. The last two years’ ESPN Espy courage awards were awarded to Michael Sam, gay football player from Missouri, and Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, now identifying as transgender, once considered the world’s greatest male athlete. In essence, the type of behavior God looks on as an abomination is being rewarded in the name of courage, while He says that such behavior is actually the result of His wrath. (Rom.1:21-32)

Many are asking where the “role models” are that will help reverse this trend for our youth. Indeed, where has the courage gone that once was prevalent enough to help us understand that there is something called decency, and right and wrong? Many have suggested that we have been silenced by the liberal left into non-action on social issues. This was brought home quite forcefully by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin in a recent speech when he was quoted as saying that liberals have mocked conservatives into silence by accusing them of being intolerant when conservatives speak their minds as on the issue of abortion. He said, “It’s a slippery slope. First, we’re killing children. Then it’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Now it’s this gender-bending kind of ‘don’t ask, don’t be a bigot, don’t be unreasonable, don’t be unenlightened, heaven forbid, just keep your mouth shut.’”See )

The governor is right. Speaking up is our right and we should not fail to exercise it no matter the opposition. However, if we do not speak up we may very well lose our right to do so. We should not allow an “agony of deceit” to defeat our God given responsibilities to be salt and light. Remember what Chesterton said – “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”