SPORTSMANSHIP FOR THE AGES

Romans 8:26

The Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. (TLB)

This story is a tribute to my father, Lester Farr, Sr., who turns 101 on Monday, February 10th! Below is a picture of his birthday cake. His photo on the cake was taken shortly after he took his first teaching and coaching job in the late 1930s in Sumner, Georgia.

Coach Farr won over eight hundred games in his high school coaching career that spanned five decades from the 1930s through the 1970s. Dad won one state championship and thirteen region championships and positively influenced the lives of hundreds of young men and women with his strong Christian character, determination, coaching skill, and strong sense of fair play. Despite the success that he had, later in life he recalled the games that he lost and what he should have done differently more often than the thrilling wins.

At state tournament time each year, strange things happen under the bright lights and the cauldron of tournament pressure. Dad’s sense of fair play was most evident in the 1952 state tournament in Macon. His Cedar Grove girls’ team won the state championship in 1951 and had a great opportunity to repeat as champions. Cedar Grove trailed by one point in the final seconds when a bizarre play occurred. Following a timeout, the official incorrectly awarded the ball to Cedar Grove when the opponent should have inbounded the ball. The Cedar Grove forward drove to the basket and scored to put her team ahead.  Only then did the officials realize that something was wrong.

Somewhat confused, the officials walked over to my dad and asked him what they should do. In the heat of the battle, Coach Farr surely must have thought, You figure out the mess you made! There was no correctable error rule in 1952 that would have reversed the points on the board. But Dad told the officials that it would be all right to take the points off the board as long as the clock was reset with the same amount of time. The opponent inbounded the ball and ran out the clock to win the game, ending Cedar Grove’s chance for a repeat.

The following morning, Macon Telegraph sportswriter Sam Glickman wrote that Coach Farr’s willingness to do the right thing, especially considering the circumstances and what was at stake for his team, was one of the finest acts of sportsmanship he had ever witnessed. It was an act of sportsmanship that surely carried over into the lives of the girls who played in the game and their friends and families who watched that evening.

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the legacy of Coach Farr and his integrity and for coaches everywhere who leave legacies that glorify you. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.

Blog Comments: Perhaps you would like to post a congratulatory message for Coach Farr.

When were you in a position that you wanted something so badly that you almost compromised your integrity to get it, as Coach Farr could have if we had simply stuck with the outcome of the inbounds play?  How did the Holy Spirit help you?Image

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