The two events disturbed me, though they have become commonplace in society. As long ago as 16 years, when I watched papas aggressively patrol the fence separating them from their sons’ high school football games, I witnessed such behavior and it seems to be getting worse.
The first occurred during the NBA finals between the eventual champion Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors. During Game 5 of the series, Warriors small forward Kevin Durant returned to play after sitting out the previous games due to a calf injury. During the game, Durant went down with an injury.
The Raptors fans cheered. The next day I listened as two radio commentators did their darnedest to justify the Raptor fans’ response, from attributing it to the heat of the moment to rationalizing away their cheers because the injury gave them an added advantage. Besides, they commented, the injury did not appear to be a significant one.
I wanted to call in to the show and ask how the commentators would explain such behavior to a Little League team of 7-year-olds – that it’s acceptable to cheer when someone gets hurt. After deciding that I might sound too judgmental – I was fired up about this – I refrained from calling.
Kevin Durant, by the way, had torn his Achilles tendon, an injury serious enough to require a probable year of rehabilitation.
The second incident occurred at a Little League baseball game during which a 13-year-old was umpiring a team of 7-year-olds. Adults attending the game had begun to misbehave, initiating a warning from the umpire, who said, “I shouldn’t have to tell a grown man how to act around little kids.” Amen?
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Instead of heeding the umpire’s warning, adults from both teams continued badgering each other, resulting in a melee of adult fists. The video of the event went viral. My stomach twisted in knots as I watched, appalled at the behavior of “adults.”
Said the umpire at the conclusion, "I thought maybe by issuing a warning everyone would just chill and take a step back and realize how stupid they were acting, but I guess not.”
At the end of the apostle Paul’s eloquent discourse on love, he writes these verses: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11, NASB).
I remember many of my childhood days. I acted like a child. I pouted when my parents said “No.” I whined when they didn’t give me everything I wanted. I talked back when I should have remained quiet. I blamed one of my brothers when an incident had indeed been my fault. I told my mother I hated her even though all she ever did was love me. That one earned me a mouth washing with soap.
I grew up, however, and through all of those experiences of childhood, God blessed me with adult role models who acted like adults. They showed me a standard to which I aimed. There were starts and stops along the way, but unlike today’s adolescence, which research reports now lasts until 27 years old, mine ended and I became accountable as an adult at age 21.
How heartbreaking for today’s children that many adults fail to do away with “childish things.” As adults, we have a responsibility to bear a standard of behavior and attitude that inspires youth. There simply is no excuse for anything less.