THE BLAME GAME
By DANNY MINTON
I’m a big Dallas Cowboy fan. I have been since Eddie LeBaron was a quarterback and as a junior high football player, I could get end zone tickets for 50 cents each at the Cotton Bowl. At halftime, we’d move on over to the 30-yard line since Dallas didn’t always draw big crowds in 1960. I was a fan before they became “America’s Team” in 1978. I’m still a fan even when the defense blows another one against the Giants or the quarterback fumbles or throws an interception to lose the game against the Eagles.
Most fans like the game but they know little about the strategy or can look at a game in its entirety to see why a team wins or loses. Unfortunately, even “football savvy” analysts who are ex-ballplayers don’t help with their biased commentaries.
I cringe thinking about Dallas losses with a chance to win or tie on the last play of the game. Once a coach “iced” his own kicker before a crucial field goal. Another time an opposing coach called a timeout that allowed the defense to adjust some things and block a kick. Many “fans” say that lost the games for the Cowboys. Actually, they were only the last thing that cost the game. A game is 60 minutes long with approximately 30 different activities happening on the field at the same time; a dropped touchdown pass, overthrowing a receiver, a penalty that negates a long gain or big loss, a missed block that kept the first down from happening. These are all events that can “cost” a team the game. However, they usually go unnoticed unless they are one of the last events on the field.
However, the biggest game in the contest is the “Blame Game.” Everyone wants to find someone to blame for the loss: the kicker, the quarterback, the defense, the offensive line, the coach. Coaches who never set foot on the field find themselves fired because the players can’t get it together. Players face criticism by the media, officials find themselves “raked over the coals” and owners directed on what to do by “couch potatoes” and angry fans looking for someone to blame. After all, we have to blame someone when things go wrong, don’t we?!
Unfortunately, Christians and churches are like that. When attendance is down, we look for someone to blame. When contributions are low, we look for someone to blame for their lack of giving. When things don’t go right, we look for someone to blame.
In most cases, the thing that we base our blame on is usually the most current event happening. In hindsight, the problems may have been brewing for a long time. They are issues that have built up over time. The last event is the one that just took it over the edge.
So, who do we blame when things go wrong? Who do we point fingers at to point out their faults? Who do we put up on the pedestal of shame?
Maybe the answer is not in who we blame but in how we approach things. Jesus once stooped down and wrote in the sand next to a woman who a crowd threw at his feet for being an adulteress. He spoke the words, “let he who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” In another place, James asks the question about why we should be concerned about the speck in our brother’s eye when we have an entire plank in our own.
Everybody has a job to do, and sometimes we make mistakes. Some of these mistakes will cost us dearly, while others will be of little consequence. So first if we are involved, we should look at ourselves and see what may have done by “me” to contribute to the problem. If we have problems, then let’s fix them. Second, if we can’t do anything about it, fill people with encouragement instead of blame and humiliation.
Most of all let’s just quit looking for a scapegoat and get on with the task at hand not waiting until the final play of the game to try and pull out from all our mistakes. That might just be too late.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ