Monday, March 26, 2007

Dungy and La Russa

Followers of this blog know that I cheer for the Indianapolis Colts and the St. Louis Cardinals, world champions in their respective sports. But I have different takes on their leaders, Tony Dungy and Tony La Russa. While Dungy is a Christian man who realizes that winning a championship doesn't make him a better person, La Russa is incredibly driven and not notably religious.

This past week, both were in the news for distinctly different reasons. Dungy garnered headlines (and time on my favorite ESPN show, PTI) for "embracing" a proposed ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Indiana. In using his celebrity to support biblically-consistent positions in the public sphere, Dungy continues to make good his claim that it was far more important to him to demonstrate that one could be a Christian and a coach at the same time.

La Russa, on the other hand, received headlines for his DUI pick-up in Jupiter, Flordia, sleeping at stop light (actually midway through an intersection) on the way home from a night out. Whether this indicates a deeper problem for the Cardinals skipper is not clear, although it certainly doesn't help his image.

While the character of the players (and managers) of various sports teams doesn't affect my support for them, still it is a good thing to be able to point my sons to a man like Dungy, to show them that life itself doesn't require one to be a hard-driver, to sacrifice family and faith, in order to be successful. And, frankly, it is a good thing to be able to point to La Russa, for an example of a man who probably drives too hard, who by his own admission doesn't have his wife live with him in St. Louis during the season because it is too hard on their marriage, and who doesn't seem to have any faith perspective.

At the end of the day, all of these public figures (and even ministers themselves) are role models. The question is whether the roles they play are for good or ill. We can be thankful for men like Tony Dungy, who plays his role for the good of the Kingdom.

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