While there may be “no crying in baseball” according to Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, there certainly is in the NBA. And I’m not talking about the prevalent whining to officials which characterizes the league and its stars. And it’s not just Michael Jordan making Kwame Brown cry in practice. The latest display of tears came from the much hyped Miami Heat locker room the other day. After their 4th loss in a row, and a tough one at that to the Chicago Bulls, the coach reported that there a “couple of guys crying in the locker room.”
Here are a few of my takes on “crying in basketball”
1.) The difference in crying in the NBA and college is not tears, but where you shed them. Crying in the NBA occurs in the locker room or at practice. But the college kids aren’t afraid to shed a few tears during NCAA tournament losses, and sometimes even in victories. When people get older, or more “professional,” they get better at hiding their tears. Unfortunately, this is often the case in our Christian lives. As we get older, we get better at hiding our hurt and need before others, even to the point where younger Christians might get the impression that such folks have “arrived.” Not good. God gives us proverbial “locker rooms” (family, close friends, small groups, etc…) to cry, but we should never hide our brokenness so much that we give the appearance of having it all together.
2.) I wonder if Coach Eric Spoelstra had the individual criers, or even the team’s best interest in mind when he admitted grown men were crying over a loss. Spoelstra simply tried to let the media know that the players really did care about losing, and weren’t satisfied with the current state of affairs. However, what he did was create a stormy speculation game of “who was crying” and open his team up to further unnecessary disrespect. Revealing your own need and weakness shows that you are secure in Christ, and that he came to die for people like you (I Tim 1:15). There is much beauty in brokenness. Revealing others brokenness without their approval is a different story. We’re better at that one.
3.) Should a Christian ball player cry after a loss? I don’t know. Tim Tebow did. Sometimes I get too involved into sports, whether watching football or playing church softball, so I’m not approaching this from high ground looking down on others who cry. Perhaps tears are acceptable for athletes in the moment of defeat? After all, their failure or success is seen by millions. But for fans or players, losses in sports can’t be allowed to linger. Jesus enabled Paul to be content whether well fed or hungry; Christ, who can do all things not only calls us to contentment, but empowers our contentment in all situations (Phil 4:12-13). So if crying is acceptable hours after defeat, I don’t think it’s acceptable days after a tough loss.