My step-son plays pee-wee flag football.

This past weekend we were at his game. And, it may sound so common, but we witnessed the worst example of sportsmanship on the part of the opposing team. It actually started with our son being punched in the face by his opponent on the line… after the play was completed (in which our son had successfully blocked the boy). Whether it was intentionally done while the referees and coaches weren’t looking, or he was just a ‘lucky thug’, the fact of the matter was that it was less than ‘sportsman-like’.

So, as difficult as it was, we could chalk it up as an abnormal event… that is… until something else happened. Later in the game another boy on our team was ‘stomped’ upon after the play was over. He was on the ground crying and holding his leg as his mother came out from the sidelines. When he ‘had a few words’ with the coaches of the opposing team… they proceeded to make some unprofessional and needlessly aggressive and insensitive comments towards her.

It was at that moment that our family, and many others, realized anew something that we all have really always known… as the leaders behave… so too do their followers.

Unfortunately, we cannot expect ‘sportsmanship’ from children whose coaches and mentors and teachers do not example ‘sportsmanship’. Coaches and mentors and teachers have a serious responsibility to mold the next generation… and when they fail, those who follow them eventually will fail.

It’s no wonder that almost every major religion places a high value (and correspondingly high responsibility) on those who teach. Jesus says in Luke 17:1-2:

“Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone BY whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

When you think about it… the next generation merely reflects what WE have taught them. If WE don’t like what we see… we have only ourselves to blame.

Let’s turn it around.