When Icons Fall

I’ve been watching the saga of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel with interest over the past several months. He was universally worshipped in the state of Ohio and in many parts of the country (not Michigan) as a morally upstanding chap who could really teach and motivate his players at the highest levels of collegiate football. I wondered. To me, to be in the top 5 year after year, you probably have to cut some moral corners here and there.

What I didn’t know was that Tressel was also revered as a Christian hero. In an impressive piece, Former Ohio State campus minister Rev. Jonathan Weyer writes:

“Tressel started bible studies, wrote books about character values, and preached integrity in all things. He spoke at Christian rallies, talked about the importance of his faith, and how much it influenced his life. Tressel had become the darling of the Christian world in our state. He became the personification of that curious American creature that is part sports hero and part religious icon.”

Jim Tressel resigned earlier this week for covering up misdeeds in his program and then lying about both the misdeeds and the coverups. The misdeeds themselves will most likely cost the football program dearly in years to come. What to do now? Here’s Weyer again:

“I hate what Tressel did. I hate that he lied. But even more, I hate that I put him in a position to break my heart so much. He should never have been there in the first place. Tressel is just a guy, a good football coach who messed up for a variety of reasons. He should never have been my idol and it’s not fair to blame him for my own sin, the sin of making an idol in my life.

I really hope the Tressel situation will really make us as Christians examine our whole point of view on our icons by asking the questions: Are they icons for the right reasons? Are they icons because they are poor in spirit, meek, peacemakers who admit their sins, weaknesses, Are they servants, lovers of God and humans, or good neighbors?

Or are they icons because they are famous, supposedly moral, powerful, and influential?”

I encourage you to read the whole article.

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