Frenzied chatter has escalated recently over two sports icons; Mark McGwire and Tiger Woods. Both have fallen from fan-grace it seems. The cry is a wearying one of, "What kind of examples are they to the kids?"
Shall we investigate?
Mark McGwire violated his sport by using drug enhancers which were improper for a professional athlete. That's bad. When he testified before a congressional committee he refused to comment; thus refusing to lie. That's good. Recently...and repeatedly, I might add...he has admitted his mistake, confessed his sin, and apologized for his failure. That is a very good example.
Tiger Woods' image tanked at the news of infidelity. That's bad. He sought immediate help through rehab. That's good. He appeared before the media--thus the world--with self-humiliating confession of his sin coupled with a deep expression of penitence and sorrow. That is a good example.
While McGwire and Woods should be embraced for their example of courage to admit in brutal honesty their mistakes, the general populace wishes to second guess and call for more public humiliation. This example on the part of fans is bad; it is wrong.
What kind of a message are we sending to our kids when one who messes up can't be reinstated? What kind of examples are we when those among us has the audacity to clearly state they made a horrible mistake and we won't accept their confession? Do we really believe kids aren't watching our rejection of these men?
Just who are the examples here? Well, more than Mark and Tiger. The role models are also moms and dads, neighbors and coaches, talk show hosts and news reporters. It is one thing to insist we walk an upright path. It is quite another to continue to kick at those fallen while pointing our narrow and judgmental fingers assuming we are not hurting our children by our lack of grace and mercy.
When these kids grow up and fail....for fail at several things they will....what will they recall regarding the treatment of Mark and Tiger? Abuse or forgiveness? Hate or mercy? Chide or applause? Believe me, it matters. The icons in sports aren't the only examples to kids. The two sitting in the front seat driving to church are overheard whether we believe it.
May we be determined to treat our wounded better.