For even the world’s best athletes, the Olympics represent the chance of a lifetime. Years of sacrifice and training culminate in fleeting minutes, perhaps only seconds, of effort. And then…only one winner stands atop the award platform.
Going for the gold is one thing. Getting it is another. Just ask Jim Ryun.
Though not one, not two, but three Olympiads, he chased the gold. But every time he ran, its glitter remained just beyond his grasp.
Tokyo, 1964. A boy of 17, Jim had run competitively for the first time less than two years earlier. A cold hampers his efforts, and he fails to make the finals of the 1,500-meter race.
Mexico City, 1968. In spite of a series of minor injuries and even a bout with mononucleosis, Ryun is the favorite for the gold. He brings home the silver.
Munich, 1972. Again the favorite. In his first qualifying heat, Ryun tangles with another runner 500 meters from the finish. Tapes show clearly that he was bumped by the other runner. But his appeal is denied. To run and lose is tough…
By Ken Sidey
Click here to read the remainder of Jim Ryun’s story in the Vol. 3, No. 2 (1989) issue of Sports Spectrum, which was then called Second Look.
“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” Matthew 7:26
Who won the Super Bowl last year? How about two years ago? Three? Four? Five? Six? Seven?
If you could name each Super Bowl champion from the last seven years, I would be impressed. But my guess is that recalling the Super Bowl winner from two or three years ago was a struggle. Most people, outside of Indianapolis Colts fans, have forgotten that my teammates and I won a Super Bowl in 2006. That was six years ago. As difficult as it was to win, as long of a journey as it was, as much joy as it brought Indianapolis, it is long forgotten. I’ve even forgotten it. I’m not entirely sure where my ring is. Sports, fame, and fortune are usually fleeting. Legends are made and forgotten. Championship rings are won, soon becoming distant memories for all but the most loyal fans.
And I would guess that all of us have idolized something that is fleeting, whether it’s a Super Bowl or a job position, football or a relationship. The sands of all these things we’ve idolized will eventually blow away, but a lifestyle built on a relationship with God will stand because it is on solid rock.
My foundation reminds me not to idolize the things that are easily forgotten.
By Hunter Smith
Hunter Smith is a former punter in the NFL and author of “The Jersey Effect,” a book aiming to help athletes, parents, and coaches gain a proper perspective on sports. Log in here to access our most recent Training Table. Subscribe here to receive 12 issues a year and a daily sports-related devotional.
SS: How have you changed since your college days at St. John’s? Has being an NBA star affected you?
Jackson: No, I think the things that have changed me are being married, having two children, and most important, becoming a Christian. That changed my life more than anything else. That changed my perspective, changed my attitude, changed my whole outlook, and that really was the greatest thing that happened to me.
SS: After a couple of seasons with the Clippers, you moved on again, this time to the Pacers. How do you keep any stability in your life with all these changes?
Jackson: I keeps stability in my life with God by trusting in Him, knowing that He’s not going to steer me wrong and that things are going to go great as long as I stand firm. Also, I have a wonderful wife an wonderful children. Those are the key things in life. It doesn’t make any difference where I play. Still, I must say that this is a great situation: great organization, great coach and twelve guys committed to winning, and I really welcomed this trade.
SS: What keeps you driving to succeed in the NBA?
Jackson: Perfection. Wanting to be the best. Wanting to continue to prove people wrong. And, most important, wanting to touch lives: Wanting people who sit in the stands or sit watching the TV to say, “There’s something special about that guy. Not his basketball ability, not that he can pass the ball and make people around him better, but there’s a special light shining on him.” And wanting to them to want the same thing and letting them know that the light is Jesus Christ.
SS: You mentioned giving your life to Christ. Was it in college?
Jackson: No, it actually happened in my third year as a pro, when I met my wife, Desiree. She told me about the experience of giving your life to Jesus Christ. Nobody had told me that up to that point. She told me about it on our first date, and I thought: “This lady is really special; she just saved my life!” So I accepted Christ as my Savior…
SS: How have you changed? You said that believing in Jesus made a big change in your life–how did it change you?
Jackson: Well, I was never a “bad guy,” but it’s changed me to the point where I try to witness and to minister to people so they don’t have to go 20-something years of their lives without knowing they could become a Christian, that they can give their life to the Lord, and the Lord is waiting. I try to–whether it means mentioning my faith in an interview–allow the Lord to use me as an ambassador, trying to touch someone, trying to bring a soul to Christ.
SS: What NBA story best typifies you and your character?
Jackson: Coming down on a fast break with another teammate alongside of me, when I could just go in and take the shot myself, giving him the ball. As simple as that sounds, that probably best typifies what I’m all about: Unselfish and doing things for others, and sitting back and thanking God for the opportunity.
SS: What’s God been doing in your life recently?
Jackson: Hey, He’s blessing me! He just blessed us with a beautiful baby girl! (Heavyn Nicole was born on December 12, 1994.) Being in the delivery room, watching the precious gift of life being given to my wife and me–you cannot imagine how special that is! And that’s what God continues to do for me.
SS: You’ve got a little boy and a daughter now. If you could pass one thing on to your kids, what would it be?
Jackson: The only thing I’d pass to them is Christ–saving their souls and telling them about Jesus Christ and the wonderful things He’s done and continues to do. I’ve done that with my son, and I’m going to continue to do it with my daughter. That’s the only thing I want to pass on to them. Basketball, and everything else, when it comes down to it, doesn’t make a difference.
By Nancy VanArendonk
This Q&A appeared in the February 1995 issue of Sports Spectrum.
Yawn…yawn. Seemingly just another day at the office for point guard Steve Alford. The smooth 6-foot-2 senior led Indiana University to the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championship this season, averaging 22 points a game. But his fluid movements on the floor belie the effort and diligence away from the camera that went into his contributions toward the team’s national title.
Alford ended his career as the Hoosiers’ four-time Most Valuable Player. He finished as the number 2 all-time scorer in the Big 10 Conference–a mere deuce behind Michigan’s Mike McGee…
To read our story on Hoosiers star and UCLA head coach Steve Alford from our Volume 1, Number 3 issue, click here.
This issue features Brooklyn Nets rookie Mason Plumlee, contemporary Christian music artists Tenth Avenue North and Nicole Jennings, the wife of Minnesota Vikings two-time Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings. The issue also includes stories on NFL kicker Ryan Succop (of the 8-0 Kansas City Chiefs), and two World Series participants: St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and Boston Red Sox player Daniel Nava. Also, our columns touch on a variety of issues: In “Airing it Out,” managing editor Brett Honeycutt writes about pardons; In “Another Angle” staff writer Stephen Copeland writes about grace, and in “Unpackin’ It,” Bryce Johnson talks with New Orleans Saints tight end Ben Watson.
Schilling had just given up four hits over seven innings against the New York Yankees, helping the Red Sox win the game 4-2, forcing Game 7. With the victory, the Red Sox moved one victory away from the most shocking comeback in baseball history.
Schilling ignored the excruciating pain in his right ankle, pain that was caused by a dislocation of the tendons around the outside of his ankle and the stitches inserted to stabilize them. When Albert asked Schilling how he was able to persevere, the reporter was surprised with Schilling’s response…
Read the remainder of our story from our March/April 2005 issue here.