It has been said that there has seldom if ever been a finer person involved in American sports than former UCLA head basketball coach John Wooden. Wooden is one of the most successful basketball coaches ever, as such things are measured by statistics. Mind you, he won ten NCAA championships, believe it or not. His teams once won 88 consecutive basketball games which is an athletic miracle. He has one of the best win-loss ratios of any basketball coach in the history of the game.
But what people who knew John Wooden remember above all else about him, are not the numbers and the stats, but rather, the character of the man. He took care to get to know his players, to discipline them and mold them in things that go far beyond jump shots and rebounds. When John Wooden turned 90 years of age, he still knew the whereabouts of 172 of the 180 men who played on his team over the years.
Wooden drilled into his players things such as – discipline yourself and others won’t need to – never lie, never cheat, never steal – never score without acknowledging another teammate whose play led to your score – one word of profanity and you’re done for the day – treat your opponent with respect.
In that connection, the story is told that one day the All-American center by the name of Bill Walton showed up for the first practice of the new season sporting a full-length beard. Coach Wooden didn’t like beards and so he gave Walton a very stern look. Walton said to the coach, “But it is my right.” Wooden then asked this towering center if he believed strongly in what he had just said about rights. Walton said, “I sure do.” The coach replied, “I admire people who have strong beliefs. I admire people who stick with their strong beliefs. I really do. And we’re going to miss you around here Bill, we really will.” Walton shaved the beard then and there and ever since has called Coach Wooden once a week to tell him that he loves him.
Fact is, it was harder to make the team and play basketball for John Wooden than it is today to become members of modern churches and supposedly follow Christ. Historic mainline denominations now welcome homosexuals as full members of the team and are allowed to live by their own rules. Those same denominations will not preach against abortion because they believe that babies in the womb are not human beings, but only potential human beings. Divorcees and adulterers are welcomed into membership with no background checks and no questions asked. All of the these metaphorical beards stay on and are presently growing!
…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent
and believe in the gospel. Mark 1:15