As I write this, the athletic world is focused on the postponement of March Madness 2020, the 2020 Olympic Games, Wimbledon 2020, the 2020 Masters tournament, and the seasons of MLB, NBA, and NHL. It is a weird time for every aspect of world culture that is unprecedented and unseen since WWII. However, if you were to go back just 3 weeks ago the Sports Headlines were filled with headlines about the Houston Astros Organization 2017 Championship Season, and the responses coming from Major League Baseball.
This had been coming for a long time, the Houston Astros had been somewhat of a laughing stock since their failed World Series run in 2005. In the 58 seasons that they have been apart of MLB they do not even have a .500 record (.496). Furthermore, in the decade between World Series appearances, they had only 4 .500 seasons, and 3 100+ loss seasons. Then in 2017, they won 100 games and the World Series. They had accomplished the ultimate underdog story. They went from the worst team in baseball to the best. But almost instantly, it was thrown into question. The NL Champion LA Dodgers had been suspicious from the moment the final out was recorded. The following year, the Cleveland Indians and NY Yankees had caught the Astro’s taking pictures of their dugout in the playoffs. Then in 2019, a former Astro’s pitcher leaked the information to Ken Rosenthal. Mike Fier’s blew the whistle on the sign stealing scheme that the Astro’s had used to give them an edge in 2017. They had been using the new cameras and monitors, meant for replay review, to steal signs. They relayed the signs through a coded banging on the clubhouse trashcans. The 2017 Astros were not the Disneyesque underdogs of MLB, but were in fact frauds that had cheated their way to a Championship.
The Astros responded immediately by firing the manager and general managers involved. Former players from the 2017 Astros lost their coaching positions as well. However, when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred took action, he seemingly did nothing. The Astros remain the 2017 Champions, only losing a few draft picks and $5 million. Astro’s players attempting to act sincere gave halfhearted apologies and unrepentant remarks.
This is not the first time in Athletics we have seen people or organizations trying to cheat the system, and it won’t be the last. Just in the past 30 years we have the examples of known and proven cheaters that look to have won.
This is Part 1 of a new series titled “Do Cheaters Never Prosper? - A Biblical Response” written by our Director of Digital Resource Development Andrew Fouts
About The Author
Normally behind the cameras and control boards of CSRM Resources, Andrew Fouts currently serves as the Director of Digital Resource Development for CSRM and works as an inner-city missionary through them within Northeastern Ohio. A licensed Pastor, Teacher, Coach and Administrator, Andrew has been developing and leading Christmanship centered programming for churches, schools, and teams over the past 6 years.
It Is Definitely a Reach: Top Ten Reasons I Return to the Reachgathering Conference (In no particular order)
While the mega-churches gain all the media attention, the little churches in America keep reaching, worshipping, and ministering to their congregations and communities. According to the National Congregations Study, 59% of all churches in the United States had an attendance of 99 or less on any given Sunday. Another 35% had between 100 and 499, which means 94% of all churches are not in the mega-church category.
When I consider the number of small churches, the Shakespeare quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, of which I take totally out of context, comes to mind, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” (Act 3 Scene 2, page 13)
When David was a shepherd boy, he was sent to deliver food and supplies to his older brothers, who were serving in King Saul’s army. When David heard the giant, Goliath, poking fun at the Israelite’s God, he was offended. David proceeded to take on the giant one on one. Saul points out that David is a small boy and can’t fight the giant. Even Goliath says, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with a stick?” (1 Samuel 17:43 NLT)
As you may know, the little guy won that battle, and it vaulted David to be king.
A church may be small, but its influence in a community possesses the incredible strength of God. In this day and age of mega-churches, it’s easy to play a comparison game. Many small churches rule out viable ministries because they don’t consider themselves large enough to do the things other churches can do.
Let’s rethink the model.
Sports, recreation, and fitness ministries seem to find themselves in larger churches with larger ministerial staff pools to lead the efforts. Okay, I’ll grant that point. However, any church, planted in the community where God is working, can have an eternal significance with the people of that community.
In the book, Sports Ministry That Wins, contributing author Joe BW Smith, gives suggestions for smaller churches and how they can still influence their communities. He speaks of churches taking on unique paths to use the cultural enjoyment of sports as mechanisms for sharing Christ and His love. Smith not only gives excellent ideas, but he also crafts the ideas in keeping with the theology and traditions a small church may hold.
One of the visions I have for CSRM is to extend our influence into smaller churches. There we can work with ministry volunteers and offer consultation, resources, and prayer support for their efforts in using sports, recreation, and fitness ministries to reach their community.
Don’t let your size be of any issue in fulfilling God’s mission in your church and community. You will find Sports Ministry That Wins and other great resources in the CSRM store at https://csrm.z2systems.com/np/clients/csrm/giftstore.jsp
 (n.d.). Retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html
 (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sparknotes.com/nofear/shakespeare/msnd/page_108
I write this one week before the Board of Trustees and CSRM staff meet for their annual fall meeting. Having served on the board, I know the time we gather will be great for praying, planning, and relationship building. It will be the first fall meeting that I will lead as Executive Director. An agenda is set, and I think we’ll be able to praise the past while looking forward to the future.
To discuss this move forward, I’d like to share a story from the chapter, “The Reluctant Followers: Thar She Plows” in my first book, Characters of the Bible: Finding My Stories in Their Stories.
My career has, however, given me great insight to teach future recreation leaders about leadership, programming, and facility management. I’m presently in a class that deals with recreation facilities and fields. We look at how to design them and how to maintain them. A few weeks ago, the topic was baseball and softball fields. I remember my days at the First Baptist Church of Natchez, Mississippi, where we had two softball fields on church property. I generally do well to avoid actual work in my jobs. My philosophy of leadership has always been to not do anything that I could find someone else to do for me. It worked well with employees, volunteers, and sometimes with family. Unfortunately, my brothers and sons are all smarter than I am and figured out my system fairly early.
In this particular case, I had a crackerjack team of volunteers that groomed the field, set the bases in place, and laid the chalk foul lines. One particular weekend, during a fundraising tournament, I had to get to the fields and line the baselines myself. I wasn’t worried, as I had watched numerous people do it before. How hard could it be? I mean, really?
I set the frame on home plate and chalked the open areas to create the two batter’s boxes. Then I filled the chalk dispenser and went from the corner of home plate toward first base. About a third of the way up the baseline I turned to make sure I was laying the chalk straight. The problem was, I kept going as I turned to look. There’s a bit of physics involved in this, and I never really understood physics, but I did understand that if I turn my head to the back, my body follows toward that same side. I often make that same mistake in driving an automobile.
Not a problem, I thought to myself. No one else was there, so I kicked dirt around the angled part of the line and set the chalk dispenser back where I first turned. Off I went again. This time I was smart enough to stop walking as I turned to view my work. Now I realized there was a break in the line, with the new line starting about a half inch outside the original line. More dirt was kicked, and the line began once again from the beginning point. I’d worked on the process long enough that I now had an audience. Early arrivals for the tournament were sitting on the bleachers, enjoying my varied attempts to chalk a straight line.
Finally, after several attempts, one of my talented friends took over. He claimed it was so I could be free to deal with the administration of the tournament and minister to the people attending. That may be, but I also know he wanted a straight line between home plate and first base.
Some other people had difficulties with straight lines as well. While Jesus was walking at one time, a man said he wanted to follow Jesus wherever he would go. Jesus let him know He had no place to lay His head. Jesus then offered a couple of invitations to follow Him. One person answered that he wanted to wait for his father’s funeral. I don’t get the idea it was happening soon, or else Jesus wouldn’t have told him to let the dead bury the dead.
Another man was invited, but he wanted to wait in order to say good-bye to family. Jesus pointed out that one who looks back while plowing is not fit for the kingdom of God. Looking back always causes the head to turn in the wrong direction, thus making a straight path much more difficult.
Our main point of concern cannot be where we’ve been, but instead where we are going. I think God would want us to recall, remember, and recite how He has worked in our lives. I don’t think remembrance is what Jesus is referring to in this case. I believe Jesus is trying to keep us grounded in the circumstances of the day and to look at where God is taking us tomorrow.
Chef Gusteau, in Ratatouille, said, “If you focus on what you left behind you will never be able to see what lies ahead.”
Please keep the staff and board in your prayers as we move forward to the future. Pray as well how you might help us with finances or functions of the organization.
Waddell, D. (2015). Characters of the Bible: Finding My Stories in Their Stories. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan
This month’s Executive Director Blog is about a great opportunity all of us can take advantage of in helping future sports, recreation, and fitness ministers gain academic and conference scholarships. The Leedy Scholarship Fund assists students in preparation for sports, recreation, and fitness ministries. In the past, the Association for Church Sports and Recreation Ministers has conducted a golf tournament to fund the scholarship. The 2018 Tournament did not occur due to the transition of leadership in CSRM
This year we are operating a giving campaign to raise funds for students to gain scholarships toward their ministry calling. Many will use these funds toward a Master's Degree in Sports Ministry offered by our very own AGON Institute. Other students may apply for funds toward attending the ReachGathering Workshop for Sports, Recreation, and Fitness ministers.
An anonymous donor has offered a matching fund up to $1,000.00 toward all gifts that are given by September 30, 2019. Furthermore, we will publish the list of donors, unless requested to remain anonymous, under the following categories:
Master's Degree Gifts of $500.00 or more
Bachelor's Degree Gifts of $250.00 to 499.99
Major Courses Gifts of $100.00 to 249.99
Minor Courses Gifts up to $99.99
You may send your tax-deductible gifts by check or money order to CSRM PO Box 9110 Canton, OH 44711.
Please write "Leedy Scholarship" in the memo line. You may also go to www.csrm.org/donate and click on the "Click Here to Support CSRM" button. On the new page, click the arrow for "Campaign" and choose the "Leedy Scholarship."
The Leedy Scholarship was created to honor the legacy of Jim Leedy, who cared deeply about young people and used athletics as a tool through which to share his faith. Jim was a successful husband, father, businessman, leader, and servant of Christ. Jim was passionate about educating, equipping, and inspiring others. This event honors Jim and his legacies. Read more about Jim below.
About Jim Leedy
Love for God, love for family, and love for others was Jim's motto. Beyond that, basketball ruled! While he loved all sports, basketball was his favorite. He was on the high school
team, then the college team. From there he went on to play on church teams for many years. Basketball was in his blood! As he got older, he played to exercise and to minister to young players. He often told his wife, "I'm exercising for you so that I will be a healthy old man." She doesn't think that was his only motivation, and sadly, he didn't get to be that healthy older man.
Jim loved God. He loved helping people whether it was with his time or his money, and he loved playing basketball. Jim was actively involved in sports outreach at his church. He was committed to seeing young men become involved in the local church. That is why he believed
in CSRM. CSRM was where it all came together. Through CSRM, he realized he could do all three: serve God, help others, and play basketball. And that is what this scholarship is about; assisting people in finding God while they have fun playing sports. It seems that God let him leave this world doing what he loved so much: using his skills in basketball while at the same time introducing young men to his Savior. What a way to go!
We honor Jim's memory by offering this scholarship to those people who will carry on this legacy. Thank you for your prayer support and for what God leads you to do financially.