Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2 Strikes and You're Out?

After reading the story in today's local paper about Elkhart Memorial High School's basketball coach, Mark Barnhizer, I find myself wondering if we haven't changed the rules of the game. I'm wondering if, in this era when every failure and mistake is amplified, if we haven't gone to "2 strikes and you're out."

Here is what the paper said. The coach was driving home and changed lanes in an erratic manner. A police officer stopped him. Mark's blood alcohol was okay but a test revealed the presence of some kind of drug in his system. (He said it was a painkiller for his feet.) When the officer discovered the coach's driver's license was suspended, Barnhizer was put in jail. And not released until sometime in the afternoon on the following day.

He made it to the IHSAA regional game, where the Chargers were playing Valporaiso, late in the 4th quarter. He apologized to his players after the game. He told them, "I let you down." The team, with one voice, responded, "No you didn't, coach!" They told Mark they loved him.

Apparently, the coach has had his license suspended several times. So I don't know what that is all about, but I would "coach" him to get that part of his life straightened out.

People say he is a good coach. His players love and respect. The sportswriter in the article today cautions people not to lose perspective.

I'm not sure how this will end, but I see us tossing people overboard when they do something foolish or stupid. One strike or two and you're out! I know there are people like Madoff who keep doing the wrong thing over and over and over again. Who have no shame and participate in one criminal act after the other. But it seems to me that we haven't pretty quick to write people off.

As I finished the newspaper article, I remember a day when I was on a muscle relaxant for a herniated disk. I was very young. An associate pastor at Trinity. I decided to get out of bed and go visit the parishioners who were in the hospital. As I walked through the kitchen to get to the garage, Sharon said, "Where are you going?" I told her I was going to visit folks in the hospital, and I would be right back. I would be very careful. "You're not supposed to drive when you are taking that," she said. "It'll be okay."

I backed out of the garage and ran into my mother-in-law's car. Feeling like an idiot, I pulled back into the garage, turned off the car, walked back through the house, and got back into bed. It wasn't headline stuff because it happened in my driveway, and I was an associate pastor. Not the coach of a team in the regionals.

Just wondering if we have changed the rules.

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