Thursday, January 13, 2011

Luck on Luck

Please circle the appropriate number in response to this statement: “My opinion is as good as anybody else’s.”

1 strongly disagree
2 disagree
3 not sure
4 agree
5 strongly agree.

The vast majority of my students, circle 5—strongly agree. I always look for the one or two juniors who circle 1 or 2, those few who realize that maybe their opinion is not as good as anybody’s else’s. Sorry, it's not.

William O’Malley illustrates this effectively in “Building Your Own Conscience.” He says
One day I was walking along a school corridor and saw a boy sitting on a bench reading Of Mice and Men. I stopped and said, "That's a terrific book."
"It's garbage."
Hmm. "Well, the author did win a Nobel prize."
"It's still garbage."
"How much have you read?"
"Ten pages."
That lad was saying more about himself than about the book or Steinbeck or the Nobel Foundation. He was claiming that his uninformed opinion was as good as anybody else’s. It’s not. An opinion is only as good as the evidence that backs it up.
A lot of people have an opinion about Andrew Luck’s decision to stay at Stanford University and not enter the NFL draft. And with the sheer amount of media attention he has received there is no shortage of evidence to back up reasons why he should have left “The Farm.”

I was struck by how many people were willing to offer their opinion on this matter as I watched the first round of NFL playoff games. As far as I am concerned the only opinion that matters on Andrew Luck’s decision is from one of two people—Luck and Luck, Andrew and his parents. And what about Coach Harbaugh? With all due respect to his recent preoccupation, his voice weighs in at an “honorable mention.”
What we know from Andrew Luck however is fairly limited. In an official statement through Stanford he said "I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of spring 2012."

His father added "This is a win-win for him. He gets to spend another year at Stanford, be part of a team that will be highly ranked again next year, finish his degree and enjoy Palo Alto. It's not like the NFL is going anywhere, it's one of the best run leagues in the world. It will still be there when he graduates."

In short, Andrew Luck remains what most sports fans truly desire—a student athlete who is just that—a student athlete. Fans complain that certain schools maintain few if any academic standards. Stanford does. Others long for the days when athletes stayed at their school for more than one or two years before turning pro. Yet, here we have young man, considered to be a lock for the number one pick in this year's draft, and most people cannot understand why he chose to stay. In light of this, I believe Luck’s decision may reveal more about us than it does about him. And strangely enough, I found Sunday’s Gospel, the Baptism of the Lord holds a similar truth.

As Jesus stood to be baptized by John the Baptist he said: Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Mt 3:13-17

The Little Blue Book says "One day he took a deep breath, summoned his courage, and stepped forward. The heavens opened and the Spirit came upon him, and a voice from the heavens said, this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. His life would never be the same."

Although it may be difficult to claim that Luck’s decision to stay at Stanford is sacramental, his decision took a lot of courage. I have no doubt his parents are pleased with their son’s noble pursuit. I think it’s safe to say his life will not be the same.

Christ did not need to be baptized; he was free of original sin. But his decision to do so is significant, for in his baptism—the prophecy was fulfilled. It speaks of Christ’s humility and the covenant between God and humanity. Christ’s baptism is for us. Why? we are called to imitate Christ in all things.

Ultimately, Christ’s choosing to be baptized, reveals more about us than it does about Jesus. We too can receive the spirit from the baptized. We too are summoned to step forward and do the right thing. We too will receive God’s grace when we seek to fulfill righteousness. And when we do, the good Lord is well pleased.

I have no doubt sportswriters have had a heyday with his name. Luck at Stanford! Luck remains at Stanford! He has certainly lived up to his name--good fortune. Cardinal fans will delight in the good fortune of another year with number 12 on the gridiron, another shot at the Heisman trophy and come June 2012 a fine graduate. Now that’s not an opinion; it's something anyone can and should strongly agree with.

Photo Credits

Andrew Luck #12
Luck & Harbaugh
Baptism of the Lord

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