Playoff Seasons

Yes, my fellow Nigerian. Football isn’t the only sport in the world. So for this episode of #FreestyleFriday, we’re going to show you the true definition of a baller.

“I just don’t see the point of watching adult men chase leather up and down” said a non-football enthusiast. And he’s kind of right. Football’s one of those things that everyone kind of loves only because everyone else loves it. Are you feeling offended already? Relax. Unlike the pointless passes of some Liverpool games, we’re going somewhere.

Football can, honestly, be boring. At the very least, you must admit that a lot of games comprise of the ball going back and forth with a few shots on target. People say anything can happen in football. But you also know what’s likely to happen. Manchester United losing, and Manchester City winning by some wide margin. People know the names of the players, their form and the coach’s strategy. Even when the camera takes a long shot, they can tell that that’s Messi disgracing another man’s child.

For the few unfaithful who are yet to convert to the religion of soccer, their biggest gripe is that for every 90-minute game, there are only roughly 15 minutes of real excitement. Except when Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Kane, or some other superbly talented player plays, it’s mostly just a bunch of guys running up and down a field. But the truth is, you’d be wrong to consider football as being boring. Because it’s not about what happens during those 90 minutes. It’s about what’s been created by the time that final whistle, like the judgement day trumpet, blows.

Like the football unfaithful, a lot of us perceive life to be boring. We’d rather life be less like football, and more like basketball, where the excitement never ceases. In basketball, something’s always happening. Whether it’s Steph Curry drowning a 3 pointer, or Lebron James tearing through the defence, every minute of all 4 quarters has something to offer. But even in basketball, there’s the playoffs. That’s when the teams really get grinding. That’s when Curry brings out the buzzer beaters, and James Harden makes the impossible shot. A playoff is a nonstop eyegasm of athleticism. And for a lot of us, we wish life could be like that: constantly in playoff season, with back to back games of back to back victory. But life isn’t supposed to be like that.

Every story has a beginning, middle and an end. And only the most gifted writers are able to keep things engaging all the way. You’ve read books that started off promising, got kind of boring, picked up again, got kind of boring, then finished with a bang (we’re looking at you Purple Hibiscus). God is always doing incredible things. If it’s possible to rank those incredible things, there’s three – a beginning, middle and an end – that come out on top. There’s creation, when he exerted energy to put us all here. There’s the cross when Jesus came to die for our sins and put us in right standing with God. And finally, there’s the return, when we will be received up and begin to fully enjoy eternal life. But between these things are thousands and thousands of years, that sort of pale in comparison. But imagine if God was always in playoff mode. If after 6 days of creation, man sinned on the 7th, God sent Jesus on the 8th, Jesus rose on the 9th, we got raptured on the 10th, Jesus returned 11th, judgement day 12th, happily ever after 13th. It’s God, He could’ve had it this way. But instead, he let the games unfold one stage at a time. He’s letting humanity play its 90 minutes, even with some extra time. Because a season is a Godly system. A beginning, middle and end is how He’s designed things to be, and we must stop getting restless in the spaces in between. God once promised David long days, not days in the sense of more hours, but more fulfilling days, and we have that promise and so much more in Christ.

So as the NBA playoff season kicks off, we will enjoy it, even as we learn to appreciate the games that came before it and the games that will come after. As men scream and jump, and argue over football. We will not turn our noses up at them, or be high in our own conceit. Because we acknowledge that the game, and indeed life itself, is not about its entertainment value. Life is not just about the beginning, the middle and the end. It’s also about everything that comes between, and we must learn to enjoy all of it, to the fullest.

So how would you describe your life? Is it a boring game of football, or the champions league final? Is it the playoff season of basketball, or just another game Golden State Warriors can afford to lose? Are you enjoying every part of your story, or only interested in beginnings, middles and ends?

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