I wrote this article way back in 2006, but I thought you might like to read it—Pastor David
Matthew 23:23 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
My son Jonathan's Junior Varsity soccer team has fallen victim to justice. We should feel honored, I guess, living some of the same experiences as mighty Odessa Permian, Southern Methodist University, and other great institutions that have faced the "death penalty" with regard to their sporting programs.
B.F. Terry High school in Rosenberg is not, I believe, regarded as a Sports powerhouse. I can assure all of you that their Junior Varsity Soccer program labors mostly in obscurity, with perhaps two dozen fans present at the home games. In fact, I am not sure that the current catastrophe will even make the school newsletter—if it does, it will be the first time the JV soccer program receives any notice at all in that august periodical.
I must admit that on paper, at least, the team does appear to be a formidable soccer power. Jonathan himself is only a small part of that power, since he plays an average of 10-15 minutes of most games. The Terry Rangers began the season with a mediocre showing in the traditional opening tournament in Waller by winning one game, tying one game, and losing one game. After that tournament Jonathan privately complained about the coaching abilities of Coach Escamilla, the assistant coach who overseas the JV team, because the Coach had not allowed him to play even a single minute, and he felt he could have made a contribution.
He could have. This team, unlike last year's mediocre team, is bereft of stars. The guy who plays "sweeper" in front of Jonathan (a defensive position that is the not-quite-the-last-man-before-a-goal-is-scored) is decidedly un-brilliant. And the play of the team certainly never gives you the impression that they can score at will. They are just a bunch of hard-working kids with a good attitude.
This, I guess, has caused them to overachieve. Since the tournament they have played eight games. They have won eight games. They have been unscored upon in eight games. In some games the opposing team has not had a shot on goal.
Four games into the season the BF Terry JV soccer squad became the subject of scandalous revelations that brought down upon them the wrath of the regulatory bodies governing Texas High School interscholastic sports. What terrible thing, you ask, could possibly have produced any interest on the part of the powers that be in an event where the athletes on the field always outnumber the people in the stands? Were Jonathan and his teammates guilty of blood-doping? Were they using steroids? Was there an illegal player, somebody whose parents had been given free housing and cushy jobs so their son could relocate into the district? None of these. Instead, some opponent dug into the personnel files of Coach Escamilla and found that he (like any number of other teachers in this area) was still uncertified to be a coach and a teacher, not having completed his night classes for that purpose. Coach Escamilla was promptly banished from the field of play (he sat alone in the "press" box for a couple of games with a walkie-talkie to communicate with the Assistant Tennis coach who had to take his place), and the team was obligated to forfeit the first four games of the season retroactively. This may cost them the district title.
As he told me this development, Jonathan concluded the story by saying, "wouldn't it be something if we get through the rest of the season without a goal being scored against us? We would be the first JV soccer team in history to not go to district without ever having lost a game on the field."
Some of you will cynically observe that I have no right to complain. Coach Escamilla's last name indicates that he is Hispanic, surely an indication of an Argentinian or maybe even Brazilian origin. He probably played for somebody's national team, earning glory in the World Cup before retiring to take up JV coaching as a hobby. I would tell you that you are only partly right. Actually, he is not from a country where they speak Spanish but from a place that means "country" in Spanish ( El Campo, Texas, a town about 50 miles from Rosenberg). He played American Football, not soccer in high school, and Jonathan assures me that while he is a good and decent man, Bruce Arena's job as Head Coach of the US national team is safe where Coach Escamilla is concerned.
Which leads me to the point of this article—a point I would make regardless of whether or not it affected my son and his future prospects for College Soccer scholarship: is there not enough true injustice in the world for us to address that we have to get all wound up in giving a JV soccer squad the "death penalty" because their coach lacks a few courses? In truth, this experience has me looking at myself and my relationships in a new way, for in my great desire to see justice done (which involves things such as beds being made, an equal measure of traditional and contemporary songs being sung in worship, only just the right amount of taxes being paid, and no one taking advantage of me) do I neglect the weightier matters of the law?
Are we not a society that regulates to death the mint, and dill and cumin and daily exhibits less justice, mercy and faithfulness?