I must admit that I've never been a big football fan. With a name like Esposito, maybe I was destined to like hockey instead. However, I recently read an incredible story of how fans at a high school football game were encouraged to cheer for the other side. As ESPN reporter Rick Reilly writes:
They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.Why would someone go to their child's football game and cheer the other side? Well, because they wanted to be like Christ. You see, the Gainesville State School is a maximum security correctional facility and these boys have never had a home game or anyone cheer for them.
It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.
Did you hear that? The other team's fans?
They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, "Go Tornadoes!" Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.
It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on- by name.
Faith's web site states that "The purpose of the athletic program at Faith Christian School is to develop and graduate authentic Christian leaders." That's what they were doing. They took Matthew 25:36 seriously where Jesus exhorts us to visit those who are in prison.
Reilly also reports, "As the Tornadoes walked back to their bus under guard, they each were handed a bag for the ride home-a burger, some fries, a soda, some candy, a Bible and an encouraging letter from a Faith player."
What impact could a selfless act like this have on tough kids? Actually, quite a lot. Reilly concludes:
After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field to pray and that's when (Gainesville QB) Isaiah surprised everybody by asking to lead. "We had no idea what the kid was going to say," remembers Coach Hogan. But Isaiah said this: "Lord, I don't know how this happened, so I don't know how to say thank You, but I never would've known there was so many people in the world that cared about us."Christopher Hitchens says religion poisons everything. I think 14 football players and their coach can easily show how that statement isn't true.
If you'd like to read the entire article by Reilly, visit the link below.