Faith & Theology

The NCAA men’s baseball college world series officially concluded in the final weeks of June. The Florida Gators won their first men’s baseball championship in school history after defeating the LSU Tigers.

But the Gators victory was not the only thing to take away and reflect on. Neither was the tournament, or the MVP, or anything else on the field.

Instead, this moment came from the team who came in 2nd.

The post-game press conference given by LSU Coach Paul Mainieri, a known Catholic, touched on several topics–from his team’s performance to his pride for his school, to disappointment over the loss.

But there was one moment in his interview that provided a perfect example for the role a sports team can play in the lives of others, as well as an example of several values that all should live by.

Here is an excerpt from the transcript.

“I remember my wife saying to me last summer, she said, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be great if you could go out and win the national championship this spring to unify the community and give them something to be happy about and be proud of?’  And I’ve never — I never forgot that she said that.”

Mainieri shows where his values and priorities lie. He has thought about his community and the positive impact that he and his team could make on the community.

This aligns with the verse Philippians 2:4
“do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

The church teaches that, while you should prosper for yourself, you should have the interests of others in your heart. This is the same thing Mainieri is teaching his players.

“I don’t really talk about it that much with the players, but in my heart, was something we really wanted to do. And even though we came up a little bit short-two victories short-I think we did a lot of things this year to make the people in our community proud and our state proud.”

Here, Mainieri again shows that, despite talking moments after a momentous loss, the coach was still thinking about others. This was clearly more than just a game, which means that regardless of the final result, they can take solace in it.

This aligns with the verse Galatians 6:9-10
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

The church teaches to do good for all people if we have the self-ability to, which is the same thing that Mainieri emphasizes to his players.

“But I know these players to my right and all the players in that clubhouse gave it everything that they had. And I don’t think they have anything to be ashamed of. And I hope that the people of Louisiana and in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, et cetera, are proud of our team.

“I think they should be. They’re a great group of kids. They’re wonderful young men. And this is just the cruelty of what we do.”

Mainieri closes out by thinking more about the type of people he is coaching and playing for, before thinking about the result of the game.

The Tigers may not have left the college world series as champions, but they made an impression on everyone who was willing to listen. They showed the core values that all, from the church, to sports, should learn from. Give to others. Teach others. And care for your community.

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