Thursday, October 14, 2021

One Way to Discuss Spirituality of Sports.... Thank you, Brandon Crawford

This message is for all the teachers who are sports fans. Are you dying to talk to your students about last night's game but not sure how? Are you seeking a fun way to integrate your passion? Justify losing the curriculum you will not cover because it's Orange October (insert your team/their motto here). With a class like Sports and Spirituality, I may not share your struggle but I still want to make the conversation a valuable one. Here's a thought.

Many teachers begin class with a journal prompt, a starter activity or thought of the day. Without a doubt, a predictable, formatted, content-based beginning of class activity can be used to achieve one of several goals. For example, beginning of class activities have previously been used to gain student attention, provide accountability, review material, engage with new content, or establish routines. To gain students’ attention, many teachers use multi-media, hands-on activities, surprising events, humor, or stories to appeal to students’ emotions (Davis, 2009). I like to use a singular photograph and get those creative juices flowing. Here's a good one.

On Monday, October 11, with the series tied at one game a piece, the San Francisco Giants returned to Dodger Stadium for Game 3 of the National League Division Series Championship. My Giants prevailed by beating their rival of 130 years 1-0. That W did not happen without the stellar defense of All-Star first baseman Brandon Crawford.

With two runners aboard and two outs, Dodgers' right fielder Mookie Betts hit a liner that seemed destined for left field, which would have tied the game 1-1, but Craw "perfectly timed his leap and got all sorts of airtime to pull the ball out of the air." Call it instincts, call it hops, I called it magnificent.

After the game, the Giants posted this photo to their social media page. The moment was exhilarating. The video replay of it is incredible. And the photo? Stupendous. I put it into my keynote presentation and asked my students to partner up. Their task: write a caption for this snapshot.

Some photos speak for themselves. I wanted to let my students speak to this one. With a caption less is more. Brevity is not alway their friend.

Even though the majority of my kids knew the context—more than I thought actually watched it live—they struggled to put a quip, a pithy remark or adequate description from pen to paper. A few students took a stab. One or two prevailed! I'll let you guess which ones.

  • Reach for the Series
  • There's more than gold in that glove
  • Jump
  • Baller
  • Sometimes seeing IS believing
  • He should have been a Spartan (that's one of mine...DLS!)

I wrote "Transcendent." What would you say?

After this activity, I asked my students to open our text to the essay "For the Love of the Game." One of my students read for us the designated verse from the chapter "Celebrating the Body." In it, Richard Gaillardetz writes,

A healthy appreciation for the goodness of the body opens us reflection on how the athletes' experience of embodiment can become the occasion for the encounter with the divine. Many athletes will describe a heightened bodily awareness in sport that, precisely in its bodiliness, enables an experience of transcendence.
It's always a good day in the classroom when what we read can speak for what we love, experience, witness, and seek to understand. What is an experience of transcendence? What might it mean to encounter the divine? And what does it mean to have a heightened bodily awareness? Again, thank you, Brandon Crawford.

One of the many reasons I love post-season sports—especially baseball is because every game is so significant. Every at bat, every out—each one is worth paying attention to. I find that very act to be a spiritual discipline. So let's fire it up! Sports and Spirituality is taking the field at Oracle Park tonight. First pitch: 6:07 p.m. Go Giants!

Photo Credits
B-Craw and High Five

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