By Kelly Carr
Today is one of the most celebrated days in America—Super Bowl Sunday. Whether you’re a tried and true football fan or just in it for the commercials, most TVs in the U.S. will be tuned in—ratings show that since 2010, over 100 million people have watched each year.
I’ll admit—football isn’t my favorite sport. But I appreciate big championship games, no matter the sport. What draws me in? The thrill of competition. High stakes. Talented, tough players.
Down But Not Out
Speaking of tough players, athletes in all sports have persevered through major injuries, becoming catalysts to push their teams forward. See if you recall these examples:
• The year was 1970. Game 7 of the NBA finals pitted the New York Knicks against the Los Angeles Lakers. Willis Reed had torn a thigh muscle in game 5 and was not going to play. However, after getting medication to dull his pain, he limped onto the court and gave 27 minutes against the mighty Wilt Chamberlain, motivating the Knicks to win their first championship.
• Near the end of the 1985 regular football season, San Francisco 49ers safety Ronnie Lott, known for his hard hits, was involved in a brutal collision that tore off the end of his pinky finger. He had it taped up and finished off the game, never missing a down. In the off-season, he had the finger amputated so he wouldn’t miss any of the next season either.
• Kirk Gibson led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a superb 1988 season and victory in the National League Championship Series. However, he’d suffered injuries to both of his legs and wasn’t even in the dugout at the start of game 1 of the World Series. But in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers were down a run; with one man on base, Gibson told manager Tommy Lasorda he was ready to pinch hit. Gibson hobbled up to the plate and got two strikes against him before busting a walk-off homerun.
• In the 1996 Summer Olympics, the U.S. women’s gymnastic team sought its first team gold medal. When a teammate fell twice during the final vault event, the pressure was all on one of the smallest members—Kerri Strug. On her first vault pass, Kerri landed and felt a snap in her ankle. She didn’t know, but she’d just torn two ligaments. Nonetheless, Strug was up again. She executed a difficult vault and stuck the landing on one foot. Her score cemented U.S. gold, and coach Bela Karolyi carried the injured Strug to the podium for the medal ceremony.
Are You Playing Hurt?
What happened to these famous athletes happens on a personal level in our own lives. Have you been playing hurt?
Perhaps your days are crippled by physical pain that shows no sign of letting up. Or maybe you’ve experienced emotional injuries so harrowing you’ve yet to recover.
You have a choice at this juncture—do you give up or play on?
It’s not easy to continue when you’ve hit your lowest low. It hardly seems possible to function when hurt and heartache weigh you down.
But there is a way to keep going. God is already at your side, and he can give you the strength you need for the next few hours. Ask him. Then tomorrow, ask him to help you through those hours. Take it one day at a time—seek your daily bread.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).