In watching the Masters this week I am reminded of a sacred rite within golf…. etiquette. Etiquette can be defined as the “customary code of polite behavior within a group.” There is a respect that resonates around most golfers as they speak about the game, the course, peers, and the spectators. There is a high expectation for the players to be thoughtful and encouraging. In fact if someone acts out in golf it is treated as a stain on their career. Good behavior is not just expected but demanded. Politeness is a timeless trend in golf.
You see this politeness displayed in many ways. Someone hits a good shot and the crowds roar. It only takes a second before the golfer is asking them to quiet the adoration for himself so the other golfer can have quiet to hit his shot. Golfers are careful to not step in anyone’s lines, to repair the course divots, to yell “good shot” when their competitor hits a drive or a putt. When the round is over they take their hats off and shake hands. Every act is thoughtful and considerate.
In this Masters tournament, Tom Watson played his last round. The crowds roared their appreciation for him. The players constantly stopped their game to applaud him. Tom showed respect by leaving an egg sandwich on the 13th hole bench by the tee box in honor of his caddie, Bruce Edwards, who had died more than 10 years ago. This type of story unfolds over and over in golf. The game is wrapped in this kind of manners and respect.
What if this etiquette began to carry over into other sports, especially among our children? Sure there are certain rules of etiquette in every sport but more emphasis on respect could be displayed. More emphasis by coaches and parents to teach their kids to respect the game, themselves, and those hey play the game with and against.
Parents, we need not only teach our children to have a drive to win and play hard but also to show respect for the game and to their peers. Of course that starts with parents being courteous and kind as they watch their kids play sports.
So many times it comes back to me that Christians are acting out at sporting events. Parents are yelling at the ref or ump. The kids of those parents often get angry or pouty, imitating their parents. I’ve witnessed parents yelling at other parents over a game involving 6 year old’s!
There are no Christian time outs allowed at the game. We should keep our emotions in check and remember it’s a game. I feel like the name of Jesus is dishonored by angry, jealous parents at sporting events as much as anywhere else. It’s a shame.
Whether you like watching golf or not, you have to respect the etiquette shown by the players and the respect they have for the game and their peers. It is commendable and worth imitating.
God cares how we act. He is not ok with us responding out of anger even at a sporting event. He is never ok with us treating others with disrespect. He demands a kindness that should be displayed at all times. When we fail to do so we should be quick to apologize for the namesake of Jesus. Golf reminds me of the importance of kindness and respect. We would do well to learn from it and teach our kids the same.