Towns across America, large and small, have a certain electricity in the air during football season. I work at a small school district in a small town. Friday Night Lights begins when the first bell rings on Friday morning. Our players walk the halls in their jerseys. The Cheerleaders gather in the library to make goodie bags for the Seniors. Class begins with chatter of what happened in practice and what will happen on the field. Teachers wear Warrior Pride t-shirts and good ol’ blue jeans! This stuff gets real, folks!

Tonight, our Warriors have the home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. We are already getting emails about plans for overflow parking. When it comes to high school football, small towns have big crowds. When it comes to playoffs, small towns get started the night before, as was evident along the streets of Lamar this morning. 

The highway that passes through our town is lined with two restaurants, one gas station, a Dollar General, the water company, City Hall, post office, and a handful of small businesses. This morning it was also lined with signs. The school campus is some distance off the highway. I was chatting with my own little ninth grade player about the big game when I saw a small flatbed trailer with a banner wishing our team luck. I drove slowly by the small houses, a couple of intersections, and the city park with a growing smile and swelling pride as we passed by one little sign after another: Go Warriors! Roll Tribe! And so on. I rounded the corner to find the last set of signs posted in front of the High School. “ONE TOWN” “ONE TEAM” “ONE GOAL”.

The signs reflect victory, and here’s why: they were all signs of encouragement, strength, spirit, pride, and support for our team. None of them taunted or threatened the opponent. I know, that’s part of the sport. But nothing speaks more of sportsmanship to me than building up your team without tearing down another. 

How do you build your team? How do you gain your victory? I’m far too guilty far too often of tearing down another in some altered goal of self esteem. Self. If my self value comes at the expense of substandard team building then I need to take a very hard look at my SELF. This game of life is not about me. It’s about one town, one team, one goal: love God and love others. 

I’m thankful for the signs of victory from a town that shows unity, pride, and support for their team without sacrificing self respect. Thank you Lamar. Thank you Warriors. If I could hand you the victory tonight, I sure would. But no matter what that scoreboard reads at the end of the fourth, you win. Warriors, you win.

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8

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