Thanks, Mort: A Great Teacher in Life

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 1, 2009 1 comments

Should irresponsibility be rewarded?

When I was growing up, I was really into football. Heck, I’m really into football today too, but I actually played it when I was younger. I weighed a whopping 135 pounds as a senior in high school, even though the program said I weighed 155 pounds. (Who was I fooling?)

As a sophomore in high school, I was on the scout offense and defense and played in JV and freshman games, since I was small and definitely needed the practice. (That’s code for “I really wasn’t that good.”) I started for the freshman and JV teams and suited up for the varsity games to play special teams for kick-offs. Suiting up for three games a week was a rush for me.

A funny thing happened that year, however. Our homecoming game was not a typical game for our team. According to the team rules, if you stayed out past 10:00 p.m. the night before the game, you would not play in Friday’s game. Strict? Yes. But those were the team rules, and they were necessary.

The night before the homecoming game, four of our senior leaders decided to stay out past curfew, and our head coach and many players found out. Our coach had a decision to make: Let these seniors play in the game even though they knew the team rules, or make them pay the consequence for disregarding them. That night changed my life. Even though we were playing one of the best teams in our conference, our head coach, Tom Moriarty (otherwise known as “Mort”), made the tough call and benched all four of these starters right before kick-off. Pandemonium broke out! These starters included our quarterback, the running back, and a very athletic tight end who caught most of the passes. The four players were livid! Even though they had been out with the homecoming committee the evening before, our coach reminded them that they broke team rules and knew the consequences. One player threw and kicked his helmet, another yelled at our coach profusely, and fans and parents were bewildered as to what was going on. You could hear the fans yelling to put these players in the game. Without them, we had little chance to win. I am sure our coach felt enormous pressure, but he would not relent. He stood his ground for the first half, and his point was made. I think he knew that he had to make this stand or lose the respect of the players.

Reminiscing about this event in my life leads me to see parallels in life today. Even though we all know there are both good and bad consequences to our actions, we still make stupid decisions. We want something but don’t have the money to pay for it, so we just put it on credit. Then later we’ll partake of that poor choice by paying three to five times what the item is actually worth. But now some people don’t even have to pay for a bad decision because they will be “bailed out.” Is it right that businesses and private citizens who make bad choices and bad decisions get rewarded for irresponsibility? Those of us who have “played by the rules” of society and are self-controlled in our finances now have to pay for the irresponsibility of others. Is this right? If we would just let people and businesses fail, people might actually learn from their mistakes and become better individuals and better citizens. Just like my coach taught us so many years ago, breaking the rules should not be rewarded. People need to learn from their mistakes and move on to become better people.

My coach probably didn’t know what an impact his actions at that game would have on his players long after the season was over. But I am glad that he was my coach and want to thank him for the lessons in personal responsibility that he taught us. Because I learned so much about life from the game of football and from all my high school football coaches, I want to thank them right now:

Head Coach — Coach Moriarty
Defensive Coordinator — Coach Moberg
Assistant Coaches — Coach Korf and Coach Leadholm
Freshman Coaches — Coach Martin and Coach Baumann.

This is for you, Mort. I want others to know what a great man you are. Thank you for being such a great influence in my life. I am 38 years old now, and this lesson — as well as many other teachable moments from you and your staff — are gifts that have changed and shaped my life in great ways. I hope to teach my children some of the same lessons that I learned from you.

I want to encourage those reading this blog to write a note to someone who has mentored or discipled you, thanking that person for sinking his or her life into yours. Send that person a letter, or post it on your facebook or myspace for others to see. If you can’t think of anyone or have too many from which to choose, ask God to help you in choosing someone. Then get to work. Do it right now, or time will slip away from you.

In closing, I just have this to say: Thanks, Mort! I am still realizing how much you taught me about life in those four years of playing the great game of football for you. Thanks again.

For more reading on this topic, check out John 6. (Yes, the whole thing!) Leaders are learners. Notice how Jesus leads and how His disciples follow, while others simply blow Him off.


Back from England said...

What a great blog and act of love to write it. I also benefited from many examples by Mort as well other teachers at NB.

It looks like you have a wonderful path in life Jason. I am so very glad.

Beth Schmuck Whelan