Love Your Opponents

It’s somewhat rare that you find a news story about someone doing something GOOD. More often than not, the stories in the news focus on the bad things people do…robberies, murders, drunk driving, etc. So, when I came across this hockey story from CBS Sports, I knew I had to write about it.

The basic story is that the goalie for a bantam league hockey team fell ill. Another kid, Bryce McGary, who’d never really played goalie, (he had about one day’s experience in the net) had to fill in for their team’s game. He had hardly any equipment, so he and his team asked the opposing team for some help. The son of the coach for the opposing team, Jacob LeClair, was their backup goalie for that game, so he loaned McGary his helmet and an extra stick. Then, after McGary’s team had fallen behind 5-0 in the first period, LeClair came over to McGary and gave him some quick lessons on technique for playing goalie. Someone captured the scene on video (which you can see in the link above).

I’m reminded of Jesus words to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”[1] In sports, we have a tendency to love our own teams and our own team’s players while usually criticizing and booing our opponents. Jacob LeClair helped his opponent. There was no reason he HAD to help, but he did so out of kindness. And he didn’t just give Bryce McGary the “stuff” he needed. He taught him. He worked with him. He got in there and got his hands dirty, so to speak. Jacob LeClair is an example of good sportsmanship, an example of love for others.

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with rooting for one team over another. As a Cubs fan, I will always root for my team to win over their opponent. And that is okay. But we can’t let our loyalty trump our compassion and kindness. Some things are more important than winning. Jacob LeClair gave us an amazing example of stepping across those boundaries that we create to divide ourselves and reaching out in compassion to someone in need. Thank you, Jacob! Keep up the good work! We can all learn from you.

1. Matthew 5:43-44

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