religion & philosophysports

Upward Devotional: Looking Inside, Underneath

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As I noted before, it’s the start of a new year, and that means part of my Saturdays are spent in gymnasiums … one in my church, and another in the public high school across the street. The Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season is well underway here, in Midland, Texas. Volunteers are helping the program in a lot of different ways … as coaches, referees, time/scorekeepers, and delivering devotionals to the fans during halftime breaks … I’m one of the volunteers doing the devotionals, and here was my presentation for today, inspired by the story of a an alumnus of the college where I work …

Hello, everyone, and thank you for being here today for the kiddos …

There’s an old, old saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And that’s true, really … too many people rely upon outward appearance, not taking the time or the effort to find out what’s underneath, whether it’s a book, or a car, or a person.

I work at Midland College, and over my years there, I have met some good people, had some good experiences, and heard some good stories … one of my favorite stories involves a young man who came to Midland College to play basketball.

Anthony Webb was born in poverty, in the Dallas, Texas area. From an early age, he enjoyed playing basketball. He was quick, and he could really jump. But he was also short … too short, many people said, to play basketball. He might never have gotten a chance to play even junior high basketball if two other players hadn’t failed to meet exam requirements.

When he played, he played well. But over and over again, he had to work hard to prove to the skeptics that he could play basketball at the next level. He graduated from high school with an impressive varsity basketball record, averaging 26 points-per-game. But colleges – certainly the big schools – weren’t interested … except for Midland College, a two-year junior college, out in the middle of nowhere West Texas.

So, what happened? A national junior college championship for the team, and an MVP award and write-up in Sports Illustrated for Webb … all of which attracted the attention of Coach Jim Valvano at North Carolina State University … a chance for Webb to continue his education and his basketball at a four-year school.

The pro’s came next …. with many scouts finding him too short to play professional basketball. But he was finally drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. Anthony “Spud” Webb played well enough to start for the Hawks, to be selected for the NBA All-Star game, and even compete in the Slam Dunk Contest … which he won.

Not bad for someone who is five-foot, seven-inches tall.

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t focus solely on outward appearances.

In the second book of Corinthians, we read …
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NKJV)

Not a bad idea for basketball or anything you do in life, and what lies beyond …

Thank you, everyone. Enjoy the game!

There's a saying around here, something like, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!" That's me. I'm a 'dang Yankee from back-east' who settled in the Lone Star State after some extended stays in the eastern U.S., and New Mexico. I worked as an archaeologist for a few years before dusting off my second major in English, and embarking on a 25-year career in journalism. Since then, I've embraced the dark side of the force, and now work in PR for a community college in Midland, Texas.
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