Tag Archives: basketball

Learning to Dream Big

Story of the Day for Friday September 28, 2012

Learning to Dream Big


                               The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.  

                                                                                                Psalm 34:18



If you’ve never heard speakers urge their audience to dream big, to shoot for the stars or sail beyond the horizon, then you don’t listen to many high school commencement speeches.

I vibrate to Commencement Day speeches because I know that, among those bored seniors with sore butts, there is an attentive student who will invent the perpetual motion machine or a grad who will someday win first prize with their strawberry jam at the county fair.

Nevertheless, despite these inspiring themes, I still have the urge to interrupt commencement speeches by making rude noises during their presentations.

Graduation speeches don’t tell us the full truth. They lack the courage to talk about failure and shipwrecked dreams. They don’t even mention the percentage of graduating seniors who will someday wind up with hemorrhoids.


Lately, I’ve been reading about high school graduates who have been told to shoot for the stars.

More than a half million males play high school basketball in the United States. Many of them dream of entering the NBA. Yet, only one in thirty five of them will ever play for a college team, and less than one percent of high school players will ever play basketball in competitive Division One colleges.

But even NCAA Division One basketball is a long way from the pros.  One out of every seventy-five NCAA college players will advance to the pros.

The NCAA, whom I commend for their frankness, says that for every ten thousand high school basketball players, only three of them will ever be drafted by an NBA team.


That only a few high school players will play in the NBA is not surprising news. But here’s what breaks my heart: Forty-three percent of black high school basketball players believe they will make it into the NBA. Out of every 10,000 black basketball players, 4300 of them think they’ll hit the big time, and 4297 of them will find that their dreams have been crushed.

It gets even sadder: nearly half of those black players believed it’s easier to become a professional basketball player than to become a doctor or lawyer.


When you follow your dreams and sail for the horizon – only to find your ship marooned on a hidden reef, don’t expect your high school commencement speaker to paddle out to you to hold your hand.

But I do know someone who will be there for you. The Lord stays close to the brokenhearted.  Admiration attaches itself to achievement, but love is attracted to need.

You will have learned to dream big, when your dreams include the One who will catch you when you fall.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Too Long in the Huddle

Story of the Day for Saturday January 7, 2012

Too Long In The Huddle

                 The words of the wise are like goads . . .  

                                                     Ecclesiastes 12:11

University of Miami head coach, Leonard Hamilton, called a time-out with sixteen seconds left in the basketball game. They were leading the Pittsburgh Panthers, 84-82, but Hamilton wanted to give his team instructions on how to preserve their lead in the final seconds.

The official at the scorer’s table sounded the horn to signal there were fifteen seconds left in the time out.  Instead of sending his team back on the floor, Hamilton kept his team huddled up as he shouted directions to his team.

Fifteen seconds later, the horn sounded again, signaling that the timeout was over. A Pitt player was handed the ball, but stood there, confused, as he waited for Miami to take to the court. Panther coach, Paul Evans, screamed at his team to run the play.

Pitt guard, Jerry McCullough took the inbound pass and went in for an uncontested layup. The stunned Miami team took to the floor and McCullough quickly stole the ball, passed to his teammate, Antoine Jones, who drove the lane for the winning basket.


Meetings and planning are vital. But sometimes we spend too much time in the huddle.

I have a friend who was a member of a church council. He was frustrated. For thirteen years they discussed building an addition to the church entryway. The hammers have yet to sound, but they love to meet each month to talk and plan.


I like to talk politics with a friend. We bemoan the state of the union, and are a little miffed that the President of the United States refuses to call us, so we can tell him how to solve the nation’s problems.

My friend’s wife listened to our griping and said, “If you don’t like what’s happening in government, why don’t you do something about it?”

Well, she’s obviously naïve. We’re political philosophers, for Pete’s sake! We use our searing intellects to provide insightful analysis about the political landscape. We don’t want to do anything; we just want to talk about it.


The Bible takes a more alarming approach to education. The spiritually wise, it says, wield goads. A goad is a sharp, pointy stick. You use it to poke slow-moving animals in the rump when you want to inspire them to greater things.

Learning is not an end in itself. The words of Scripture are goads – pointy sticks aimed at our behinds – to quickly kindle in us an interest in moving.

The goal of learning is not just to stuff our heads with biblical information. We learn in order that we may adore God, trust in his mercy, and run a tuna casserole over to a sick neighbor.


We huddle up in order to run the next play.

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Rise Again

Story of the Day for Wednesday November 23, 2011

Rise Again

                 Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Even though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord is a light for me. 

                                                                          Micah 7:8

 Leroy and Mike were high school friends who shared a passion for basketball. They both tried out for the varsity, but Leroy made the team, while Mike was cut.

Mike was crushed.

He asked the coach if he could at least ride on the bus with the team for the district tournament. The coach let him accompany them – as long as he helped carry the player’s uniforms.


So, how do you respond to failure?

When I fail, I find it convenient to give up – claiming it is God’s will. I have often felt that, if God is behind it, then I will be successful, and it will be easy.


Over the years, I have begun to realize that Jesus doesn’t share my theology. He told a parable of a widow who kept coming to a judge with the plea, “Give me justice against my adversary.” Again and again the judge ignored her.

Eventually, she wore him down, and he heard her case.

The point that Jesus is making is that – even after repeated failure – we should never give up. The Lord will come to our aid.


In 1976, Ronald Reagan challenged the incumbent president, Jerry Ford. Reagan fought hard to gain the nomination, but in the end, Ford won.

Reagan had lost, but hadn’t given up. At the Republican National Convention, he met with tearful supporters and quoted from an old ballad, “Sir Andrew Barton.”  There is a line in this poem which says:

I am hurt but I am not slain;

I will lay me down and bleed a while,

And then I will rise and fight again.


When, Mike failed to make the basketball team, he didn’t give up. All summer long, he practiced basketball with his friend Leroy Smith. And that next year, Michael Jordan did make the team.

Failure didn’t keep him down. It fueled a fire within him. Jordan says, “It all started when Coach Herring cut me.”


Do you feel like you’ve stumbled into a deep pit? Invite your enemies to come quickly, because they won’t have much time to gloat over you. The Lord is our light. He heals, he strengthens, he forgives. You can wallow in the pit for a while, but don’t get used to it down there; the Lord intends to pull you out.

You’re going to rise again.

                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)