Virginia Tech basketball coach, Buzz Williams, was disappointed with the lack of respect college basketball players tended to have when the National Anthem was played before the start of the game. Even though here were a few who showed the proper attention, other players would sway with the music, look around or down at the floor, goof off, mess with their shorts or jersey, or not pay attention at all. Coach Williams knew he couldn’t confront every player on every team, but he could be responsible for teaching his own players the proper way to show their appreciation and respect for the freedoms they enjoyed.
During one practice, Buzz Williams led his players single file down the steps of the basketball arena and onto the court. He then had the men line up facing the stands. People in the active military came marching in carrying folding chairs that they opened and set down facing each player. From the opposite side, former military from the Greatest Generation and other veterans came and stood in front of the chairs while facing the players. Coach Williams looked at his players and reminded them that “We didn’t earn those chairs. Your talent did not earn those chairs. How tall you are, how fast you run, how well you shoot didn’t earn those chairs.” Coach Williams expressed that even his scouting, hard work, and coaching didn’t earn those chairs. “These guys, when they were your age, interrupted their lives, paused their education, changed their careers, and gave their life for those chairs.”
Coach Williams looked at his young men and proceeded to tell them what he expected every time they heard the National Anthem played or sung. They were to hold their right hand over their heart, place the other hand behind their back, stand at attention, and not move. They were to stand like grown men in honor of the men who gave their life so they could have a chair to sit in. The 2 ½ minutes that the anthem played they were to think of the men and women who earned their freedom. Buzz Williams said that they did not have to sing, but he did want them to know the words and be respectful of what the words mean. Then the National Anthem began to play, as current military, retired military, coach, and basketball players stood at attention. And they began to sing, some with tears streaming down their face.
When interviewed by Josh Starling, Coach Williams said, “I wanted the players to understand how fortunate they were to be able to play this great game, to earn a scholarship, and to have people pay money to watch them play. Everything comes at a cost and each and every one of us is fortunate that someone else, in some way, is sacrificing something so we can go about our everyday lives.”
God knew that we, too, would need to be reminded and taught His Ways. He didn’t assume that as His followers we would automatically know what to do, how to do it, or why it is important. We have His Word in the Bible; Jesus’ example; and family, friends, and others to teach and encourage us along the way. Then when we know and accept God’s love and choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior we have the privilege and responsibility to teach, model, and encourage others so they have that opportunity as well…from generation to generation.
These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”