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Monday, October 11, 2010

Integrity- A Disappearing Virtue

You may recall my recent post about Jabber’s Jaws football game and a decision by the coaches to include two players on our roster who were not on our team.  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that concept.  I thought about integrity and how it was most notably absent in that decision making process.

The next day my oldest son Tiger Shark participated in his first USTA Jr. Tennis tournament.  He was so excited, and nervous too.  It was a novice event, and that was good, because there is a learning curve.  The kid who he played first was somewhat of a jerk.  He had no patience whatsoever, mumbled everything and when Tiger Shark couldn’t hear him he would bark at him.  (Well not bark like a dog, but you know what I mean).  They both had calls that were blown, (ie the ball was in when it was called out etc).  That’s to be expected in any match, but this kid just had a bad attitude.  The match went to three sets, and in the end Tiger Shark just held onto his composure and wouldn’t give up.  The other kid did give up…. the score was 4-6, 7-5 (tiebreak), and 6-2. 

After that match (which was a long one) Tiger Shark had about an hour and 1/2 until his next match.  We went to grab a small bite to eat and some gatorade.  When we came back he relaxed until his next match.  He was up against the number 2 seed in the tournament.  It was an incredible match. They both played so well, and rallied for some very LONG points.  This also went to 3 sets.  For the first two sets I sat with a group of parents down by the courts and watched.  I met a lovely lady whose son plays for a local school. He lost in the first round, but made it to semifinals in the consolation round.  It was a joy to talk to her throughout the match and really helped take my mind off of my own nervousness for my son.  The other matches ended, parents left with their sons, and these two boys would not give up.  They were tied at two sets a piece and where going to another set.  I was the only parent left down by the court.

Now one thing that we learned is parents are not to “coach” their kids during a match. Actually no one is allowed to “coach”, not a kids actual tennis coach, parent, anyone. They can’t speak to them, or give them pointers.  If a player has a question about a rule during a match they must ask an official.  But there were few officials, and it’s a large complex.  It isn’t like tennis you see on TV, where there are line judges and a chair umpire etc.  It’s all based on each players integrity.  (See there I said that word again).  So in the final set, the opponent’s dad and a friend of the kid Tiger Shark was playing came down to the court to watch the final set.  The dad went to grab a drink for his son who had run out of gatorade during the first two sets.  During the changeover I asked Tiger Sharks opponent if he would like some of our water since I knew he was out.  He politely refused, and that’s when I saw his friend whisper in his ear.  Then they went back to the court and his friend sat back down. 

Tiger Shark’s opponents next shots changed completely from what he had formerly been doing.  He began hitting it high and deep at the baseline, making it difficult for Tiger Shark to get to the ball.  Each time he hit that kind of a shot he would look toward his friend and his friend would nod his head “yes”.  I was so ticked.  The dad came back, and of course missed all of this.  They were changing over again and his friend much bolder this time was on the phone and said to his caller, “Hold on a second", and with that dad right there, the  kid walked over and whispered into the opponent’s ear.  I said right then to the dad, “You know he’s coaching your son.”  The dad laughed, and I said it again… “No this is the second time he has done it. He’s coaching your son.”  The kid must have heard me, because he went back over to his seat, and the dad said.  “She’s angry because your coaching… “Bob”.”  He looked up and seemed embarrassed and said, “oh”.  I told that boy, in a quiet voice that coaching wasn’t allowed and that this has been a really good match between these two players. 

I was so ticked.  I know it came out terse, but I’m from the North.  I just don’t have the gift that my southern friends have of softening up what they are trying to say and still getting their point across.  LOL!  I did soften the end up, but I wanted those people to know that it wasn’t okay to do that.  Thankfully Tiger Shark was oblivious to it all.  He ended up losing a very hard fought battle 4-6, 8-6(tiebreaker) and 6-4.  He was happy with how he did, and I was so proud of him.  I could have contested the win.  But I’m not into that.  Yes, it was obvious, but this was Tiger Shark’s first match and he made a lot of mistakes during his first game…. ie blown calls, rules etc.  This tournament was created for the kids to learn how to play in tournaments. 

But I couldn’t help thinking about these boys.  Both boys go to very exclusive private schools in our area.  One of these schools talks about making a positive difference in the world.  The other one is even worse… “Inspiring boys, building men”.  It’s website states that they want to inspire their boys to “lead lives of honor.”  Now I know that this is not just a “school thing”, it’s a parental raising thing, and quite frankly it’s a whole cultural issue.  And I am certainly not saying my son is the perfect angel, or for that matter that I am the perfect parent… uh Hardly!

But what I have been chewing on here is the lack of integrity that has been coming across my plate these past two days….from boys to men. 

It isn’t something that I have an answer to off the top of my head.  But it’s a theme and I do believe the Lord has brought it to my attention.  The King Fish and I will be bringing this up for discussion with the older boys and talking about what it means to have integrity.  This is a character trait that I want to see fruit of in my boys lives.  It goes along with honesty, honor and valor, chivalry and integrity.  My prayer is that all my boys would one day be men with these virtues. 

Proverbs 10:9  The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

Proverbs 11:3  The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Another post I just had to get off my chest…




Craig and Phyllis said...

You have been getting hit hard with these things this week! It is a great learning opportunity for your boys, but one that you wish they did not have to learn because of personal experience - if only they could have observed it in someone else's experience.

Both your sons did very well in each of their situations, and that is a great testament to you and your husband!

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