…through the mechanism of college football.
Last week, Clemson’s head football coach, Dabo Swinney, spoke to reporters about Clemson’s new 5-star wide receiver signee from California, saying, “He’s got amazing mind and leadership abilities. I mean, he is an incredibly well-rounded young person that I think will impact our community and impact a lot of people’s lives through the platform of college football.”
Dabo, most beloved inspirational speaker, leads his coaching staff not to teach football as much as to teach young men to be fully human: to recognize that Christ resides within each one of them, that there are certain ways of living that nurture and align with that Christ presence, and that every moment in life involves a choice; every decision, every play in every game, every interaction with classmates, teammates, children, family, future coaches and agents, fans, cafeteria workers, and grieving parents will either reveal more of that Christ presence to the world…or it will cover it over with confusion and obscurring crust.
Dabo is plugged in to Christ…so are his coaches and staff people, so are the student athletes. The athletic director gets it. The fan base gets it. The community gets it. It’s code name is “Clemson Culture.” Now, others want it, too. Nick Saban knows the words Dabo uses, and wants what Dabo’s got…and when he figures out how to get plugged in, he may make the rights choices and then…look out, because there are other coaches and programs out there who also get it. Now that Clemson Football is at the top, the time and energy are perfect for this awareness to spread like…well, Spirit.
Dabo is not alone in his awareness of Christ and how college athletics is a perfect “platform” for revealing Christ. But Dabo has dedicated his life to this. And Dabo has a dream… He sees where this could lead …
Clemson Culture is not about spreading the Christian religion. It’s not about religion at all. It’s about recognizing that Christ is the manifestation of God that resides in every human whether they realize it or not. The first step in ‘realizing’ this, is being open to the truth of it. The second step is seeing it…recognizing Christ within yourself and others. After that, you build on what you find through the choices you make. Dabo and his team (and everyone else in the world) call this “Love.”
So, when Dabo and Dexter and Christian and Deshaun and DeAndre and Trevor and Hunter and Travis and Tee and Lyn J and all of them talk about “Love,” they are talking about the deepest, strongest, most everlasting POWER there is.
Clemson is revealing Christ through the mechanism of college football and this is an ingenious way for Christ to be revealed and grow in the world. Being love and spreading love is the same as revealing Christ. It’s who we are.
Why football? Why not? It has everything in place to help it happen: close coaching; fanbase support and encouragement; struggle, challenge, and competition…all opportunites to perfect skills and wrestle with the temptation to get lost in pride and resentment; myriad opportunities to practice making the right choices…and to feel the power of love…to feel the presence of Christ in themselves and how it connects them to others.
Sound crazy? Really? Any crazier than having the first person to teach us any of this be born in a cow shed in an obscure location while his parents were on a road trip?
Will Clemson win? They already have. They already are.
(The image at the top belongs to the New York Times. I’ll return it if they need it back.)