All-Name Teams #25


Featuring names from across the world of sports

God creates out of nothing. Wonderful, you say. Yes, to be sure, but He does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners.
― Soren Kierkegaard


In case the timing of this post isn’t clear, I’ll state what is perhaps obvious … this All-Name Team marks All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and Halloween (Oct. 31):

All-Saints Team 3
John Abraham — football
Joel Caleb — football
Isaiah Crowell — football
Ezekiel Elliott — football
Isaac Redman — football

All-Horror Team 3
Amazombie (horse) — horse racing
Ken Bone — basketball
Matt Hackett — hockey
Tomas Pekhart — soccer
Phil Savage — football

Procedural Note — If you’re wondering why there are five members per team: Basketball was my favorite sport as I grew up, and since the rules of basketball (last time I checked) allow five players per team on the court, I’m going with five-person All-Name Teams.

— Bruce William Deckert


All-Name Teams #24


Featuring names from across the world of sports

Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame;
Each to his passion; what’s in a name?
— Poet and writer Helen Hunt Jackson


All-Book Team
Bio Kim — golf
Matt Read — hockey
Jarrad Page — football
Chad Pennington — football
Rick Story — mixed martial arts

All-Literature Team
Connor Hamlett — football
Junior Hemingway — football
Marco Huck — boxing
Dontari Poe — football
Dante Scarnecchia — football

All-Word Team
Tyler Chatwood — baseball
Danny Gabbidon — soccer
Boris Said — motorsports
Tris Speaker — baseball
Ed Werder — sports reporter

Procedural Note — If you’re wondering why there are five people per team: Basketball was my favorite sport as I grew up, and since the rules of basketball (last time I checked) allow five players per team on the court, I’m going with five-person All-Name Teams.

— Bruce William Deckert

Non Sequiturs + Other Quasi-Funny Stuff #12


UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR from the journalism realm: Actual excerpts from stories published on the Internet are in bold — but the all-caps headlines are mine.



After Tuesday’s game, [the coach] insisted that he wouldn’t change the roster, which produced just two goals in its first two games and was outscored 7-2.

By specifying that the overall score was 7-2, perhaps the writer makes it clear that the team produced just two goals. And perhaps I didn’t need to use the word perhaps.

Yes, let’s just streamline that phrase and move on, to wit: …which was outscored 7-2 in the first two games.



Headline — Denis Shafikov defeats unbeaten Jamel Herring by TKO

This is a classic head-scratcher — how could Herring be unbeaten after losing to Shafikov? Before you puzzle the riddle too long, though, consider that a key word is missing: previously.

As in: Denis Shafikov defeats previously unbeaten Jamel Herring



But they would have also led to hits — and when a quarterback in the NFL is hit, he exposes himself to potential injury.

Sometimes a statement is so obvious that one wonders whether it needs to be made. The above seems to me to be such a statement.

It’s like saying: Football is a contact sport and can cause injury.

Hold the presses!



Tyron Smith is in his sixth year in the NFL, and he’s still only 25.

Wow, now that’s something — apparently Tyron Smith has been 25 years old throughout his six-year NFL career. After all, he’s still only 25!

Either Smith has discovered the Fountain of Youth, or one word needs to be deleted from the above sentence. Yes, you guessed it — still. So the revised phrase reads: … in his sixth year in the NFL, and he’s only 25.



While fans chanted his name during the win over Sheffield Wednesday Wednesday night, there appears to be no way back to the first team for Ben Arfa.

You might be wondering: What’s quasi-funny about this? It’s a simple mistake, an inadvertent repetition of the word Wednesday. Fix that and the meaning is clear — …the win over Sheffield on Wednesday night.


Not exactly. However, this is unclear unless you’re familiar with English soccer beyond the Premier League: Sheffield Wednesday is the name of a soccer club.

So the above sentence requires, for greater clarity, not the deletion of a word but the addition of a word: on. Thus — …the win over Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday night.

Still, even then it appears there could be a mistake of repetition. In the journalism realm, it’s an example of the editorial importance of asking a question — of the writer or assigning editor — before changing a story based on an assumption about inaccuracy.

No American pro teams (that I know of) have days of the week as part of their names. Imagine how confusing it would be in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry if Boston Tuesday had a series with New York Thursday … that began on Wednesday.

© Bruce William Deckert 2018

FAST Blast: The Best Player-Coach Ever — Part 3


Related Posts
The Best Player-Coach Ever?
The Best Player-Coach Ever — Part 2

A condensed version of this post appeared on Sports Spectrum


THE PLAYER-COACH may be on the endangered species list — the giant panda of the sports world — or maybe not. But such a creature is a rarity in sports history.

For the uninitiated, let’s define terms: A player-coach holds both playing and coaching duties for a sports team at the same time.

Two of the most noteworthy player-coaches are Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Frank Chance. Two previous blog posts (see the links above) addressed some of their accomplishments in light of this question: Who is the best player-coach ever? Let’s explore this topic further.

Chance won two World Series with the Chicago Cubs as a player-manager, baseball’s version of player-coach, and Russell won 11 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics, including two as a player-coach.

Chance’s nickname was the “Peerless Leader” — and Hall of Fame manager John McGraw was among those who praised Chance for his leadership: “He was a great player … but in addition he was a great leader because he asked no man to take any chance that he would not take himself and because he had the power to instill enthusiasm even in a losing cause.”

A previous blog post noted and discussed the “asked no man to take any chance” facet of McGraw’s quote, but in that post I didn’t include the segment of the quote italicized above.

The gist of my previous post is this: Player-coaches can take such chances because they’re actually on the field, competing in games and in practices, unlike conventional coaches. In light of this, is Jesus of Nazareth the best player-coach ever?

Jesus didn’t sit comfortably in the owner’s luxury box or stay on the sidelines in the coach’s zone, but instead entered the fray … becoming a player-coach via the incarnation in the most profound way, even running suicide sprints with us.


Let’s examine the italicized part of John McGraw’s quote on Frank Chance — “he was a great leader … because he had the power to instill enthusiasm even in a losing cause.”

Good Friday was a losing cause for Jesus of Nazareth — or so it seemed to His friends and disciples.

His followers affirm that Jesus is the ultimate “Peerless Leader” … yet the irony is that his leadership didn’t inspire or instill enthusiasm on that darkest day. In fact, before He was arrested and executed, his disciples fled, leaving Him alone — although several followers, mostly courageous women, did show up to witness His death.

Yet the New Testament declares that Good Friday was the prelude to Easter Sunday — and the power of Jesus’ resurrection instilled such amazing enthusiasm in the wake of Friday’s losing cause that the Church remains inspired here in the 21st century. Further, Easter has paved the way for the decisive new-creation start that humans yearn for.

Here’s a song lyric that reflects the sentiment of Jesus’ followers — “on that awful tree, that’s where our celebration starts for eternity.”

If you’re one of those followers, you might be musing in awe at the wonder of Easter, moved to gratitude at the cost and worth of God’s intervention on behalf of the human race.

If you’re an agnostic or atheist, or simply a skeptic, you might be musing in a stew of incredulity: What on earth are you talking about — a dead man coming back to life? Nonsense!

I have numerous questions about life and faith and the Christian worldview. But as far as I can see, every worldview has nonsensical elements that are open to question.

Atheists believe the cosmos came about by chance, apart from a Creator … so the design and order we observe in the universe is merely random … and thus the uniqueness that makes human beings human also occurred by sheer chance.

Doesn’t this sound like nonsense? Or at least questionable?

Many pantheists, including Hindus and some New Age mystics, believe in reincarnation — that human beings, depending on their karma, are recycled after death as other life forms.

This also sounds like nonsense. Doesn’t it? At the very least, it’s open to debate.

By the way, I’m attempting to look at these worldview issues as fairly as possible. The multiple chances offered by reincarnation certainly sound appealing, and I’ve felt atheistic often enough — which means I’ve felt often enough that God isn’t there.

Paradoxically, that puts me in good biblical company with psalmists, prophets and the like. Still, to take the next step — or make the next leap — and embrace atheism, asserting dogmatically that a Creator doesn’t exist, flies in the face of ample intelligent-design evidence.


Pick any faith or philosophy or worldview, and we can pick out an aspect of it that is — or seems to be — nonsense. Across the board, it appears to me, each system has nonsensical notions.

The question is this: Which version of nonsense is actually true?

Let’s agree on this: People don’t universally agree on the answer to the ultimate truth question. Likewise, not everyone agrees on the remedy for the human condition, yet virtually all honest observers acknowledge that something is askew with human beings. True, everyone has the capacity for heroic good … but also for horrific evil. And between the two extremes we have myriad rough edges.

Human history bears this out over and over again — and so do countless songs.

Look at these lyrics:

From “I Go Blind” — sung by Hootie & The Blowfish
In the morning I get up
And I try to feel alive, but I can’t.
I don’t know what it is,
Something in me just won’t give me a chance.

From “Bring Me To Life” — sung by Evanescence
Wake me up inside — wake me up inside.
Call my name and save me from the dark.
Bid my blood to run before I come undone.
Save me from the nothing I’ve become.

From “Be My Escape” — sung by Relient K
I gotta get outta here,
I’m stuck inside this rut that I fell into by mistake.
I gotta get outta here,
And I’m begging you, I’m begging you, I’m begging you to be my escape.

From “Broken” — sung by Lifehouse
I am damaged at best
Like you’ve already figured out.
I’m falling apart, I’m barely breathing
With a broken heart that’s still beating.

From “Fix You” — sung by Coldplay
When you try your best, but you don’t succeed.
When you get what you want but not what you need.
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep,
Stuck in reverse.
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace.
When you love someone but it goes to waste,
Could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you.


The broken human condition — including a broken heart — that needs to be fixed … described by five songs that have enjoyed abundant radio circulation in the 20th and 21st centuries.

These songs resonate with older songs and letters — penned in the first century and the centuries prior — that have likewise enjoyed wide circulation. Yes, the Old and New Testament Scriptures and modern songwriters describe the human condition in similar fashion.

The Scriptures, of course, identify the remedy as the One who is both the fix and the Fixer — Jesus of Nazareth. As the best player-coach ever, He is on our side and by our side and in our side.

Yes, in our side — the place in the body where the heart is located, for the human heart is the crux of the issue.

Soccer manager Pep Guardiola coached Lionel Messi, arguably the world’s best player, at Barcelona. After giving a fellow coach advice about managing a team, Guardiola started to walk away, but then turned around and added, “By the way, get a Messi in your side.”

Yes, side is soccer-speak for team, yet the human-body definition of side dovetails with a one-Word revision of Guardiola’s quote: “By the way, get a Jesus in your side.”

For He is the only One who can mend the mess of the human heart, per the New Testament.

If today’s songwriters and the Scriptures are right about the necessity of a fix for the human condition, arguably the most crucial question facing each of us is this: Who will I enlist as the player-coach to fix my side?

© Bruce William Deckert 2018

FAST Sonnets in Cyberspace #9


THE SONNET is perhaps the best poem structure for the time-challenged 21st-century reader — forgoing lengthy free verse, the sonnet concisely delivers 14 power-packed lines. True, haiku is more concise, but I digress…


See how sunlight frolics with tuneful surf,
Unceasing symphony sung by the tide
As it reclaims once more its shoreline turf.
Forever surges crystal sea, beside
Horizon’s mystery — while dolphins dance
Cavorting free and sandpipers play chase
With breaking waves and sun-bright flowers prance
Near beach in wild-eyed reverie and race
Of manatee so leisurely proceeds.
Since this Gulf Coast finds reasons to rejoice —
Ancient chorus, countless voices — and seeds
Such hope despite falling fire’s day’s end choice…
   Oh can you tell me why ship wrecks on shoal
   And why shell-shards pierce my unsandaled soul?

© Bruce William Deckert 2018



• I wrote most of this sonnet in April 2000 during a vacation with extended family on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The first 12 lines observe and celebrate the variegated wonders and evident upside of that ocean habitat, while the closing couplet describes the downside (sometimes potential and sometimes actual).

• This is a Shakespearean (or English) sonnet — a 14-line poem comprised of three four-line stanzas and a closing couplet, with the following rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg. The Shakespearean sonnet has 10 syllables per line, often (but not always) employing iambic pentameter — as you may recall from English class, this is an arrangement of five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables (one iamb is such a pair).

• A Slow Life in the FAST Lane focuses on sports-and-faith issues, so each sonnet I’m posting has at least one sports connection. Here the connection comes clearly in the reference to “race of manatee” — though it’s safe to say the manatee’s race time wouldn’t exactly qualify for any Olympic swimming teams.

Let me know your thoughts, however brief, in the comment section. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you’ve found your time here to be worthwhile.

All-Name Teams #23: Wedding Day


Featuring names from across the world of sports 

“I like your last name. Can I have it?”
— a bride to her husband

“Don’t forget your spouse’s name. That will mess up the love.”
— an 8-year-old girl’s marriage advice

In honor of my son and his wife, who were married May 19, 2018, this All-Wedding Team has only two members:

All-Wedding Team
Malia Deckert née Marstaller — basketball, soccer, softball
Luke Deckert — baseball, basketball, soccer

Normally, each All-Name Team has five members because my longtime favorite sport, basketball, allows five players per team on the court:

All-Wedding Day Team
Malia Tate-DeFreitas — basketball
Luke Kuechly — football
Vagner Love — soccer
Jamie Lovemark — golf
Lovemore N’dou — boxing

— Bruce William Deckert

All-Name Teams #22: Welcome, Springtime


Featuring names from across the world of sports…

The following All-Name Teams are in honor of the arrival of springtime, sunshine and the growing light of the lengthening days.

Some say God is the author of creation, the One who sculpts the beauty of the changing seasons. Some say there is no God, and thus nature’s beauty is essentially random.

To summarize: “Chance or the Dance?” Which is the title of a classic book by Dr. Thomas Howard, one of my college professors and mentors.

Others say life is a hybrid — God and nature are one and the same.

What do you say?

And what are the pros and cons, the consequences, the risks/rewards of your take on life and faith … and of these varying faiths and philosophies?

If you’re keeping score at home, the above three worldviews are theism, atheism and pantheism — perhaps obvious, but for the sake of academic clarity, there you have it.

P.S. The Christian faith, of course, adds the incarnation to theism — Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God and Son of Man, the One who (as God incarnate) experiences the beauty of spring on the earth He created, endures brutality in death, and rises again with new life and the promise of a stunning new creation … a new springtime that, we’re told, will endure for eternity.


“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
— William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

All-Flower Team 1
Jaron Blossomgame — basketball
Tyler Flowers — football
Jantel Lavender — basketball
Kristine Lilly — soccer
Jalen Rose — basketball

All-Light Team 3
Aaron Bright — basketball
Torah Bright — snowboarding
Al Leiter — baseball
Ryan Raburn — baseball
J.J. Watt — football

All-Sun Team 1
Helio Castroneves — auto racing
Paul Soliai — football
Sam Soliman — boxing
Odlanier Solis — boxing
Rick Sund — basketball

Procedural Note — If you’re wondering why there are five people per team, it’s simple: Basketball was my favorite sport as I was growing up, and since the rules of basketball (last time I checked) allow five players per team on the court, I’m going with five-person teams.

© Bruce William Deckert 2018


FAST Blast: The Best Player-Coach Ever — Part 2


• Related Post: The Best Player-Coach Ever — Bill Russell or a First-Century Superstar?

player-coach (n) — a member of a sports team who simultaneously holds both playing and coaching duties


BASED ON MY RESEARCH — and I admit it hasn’t been exhaustive — two Hall of Famers, Frank Chance and Bill Russell, share the honor of being the most successful player-coach in sports history, using the yardstick of championships won.

Russell claimed two NBA championships as a player-coach in 1968 and 1969. Before that, he collected nine other titles as a player. His 11 championships, all with the Boston Celtics, are the most in NBA history.

Chance won two World Series with the Chicago Cubs, in 1907 and 1908, as a player-manager (baseball’s version of player-coach).

Hall of Fame manager John McGraw had high praise for Chance: “He was a great player — I think one of the best first basemen ever in the game — but in addition he was a great leader, because he asked no man to take any chance that he would not take himself.”

Chance’s nickname — “Peerless Leader” — reflected McGraw’s sentiment.

Here’s an obscure fact for your next trivia contest: Chance first signed with the Chicago Orphans baseball franchise … which became the Chicago Cubs starting with the 1903 season.

(BTW, my source for the quote and info is the National Baseball Hall of Fame website.)

Let’s examine three elements of this intel in light of a first-century superstar who is arguably the best player-coach ever — Jesus of Nazareth.


FIRST, MCGRAW ASSERTED that Chance was “a great leader because he asked no man to take any chance that he would not take himself.” This is the quintessential domain of the player-coach: By definition, regular coaches can’t take the chances their players take — after all, they’re not playing anymore, they’re coaching.

A player-coach, however, is able to take those chances. And that’s exactly what Jesus did.

The foundation of the Christian faith is that Jesus was (and is) God incarnate, the ultimate player-coach who infiltrated the stadium of human history and directly engaged the fracas on the field. Stay in the stands and merely watch? No way — not for this player-coach.

Second, Chance was called the “Peerless Leader.”

The dictionary defines peerless as “unequaled, unrivaled, matchless, incomparable” — actually, that’s from two online dictionaries, but I digress.

Based on the Christian worldview, only one Person can lay claim to the term peerless: Yes, you guessed it — the only incarnate, crucified and risen Player-Coach.

Third, until I researched Frank Chance for this blog post, I didn’t realize that the Chicago Cubs were originally known as the Chicago Orphans.

The Orphans … what a fitting team name in the context of this discussion of the Peerless Player-Coach!

The moving play “Orphans” explores the theme that human beings are, universally, broken orphans looking for home. The Christian faith offers the antidote: Jesus came to seek orphans and give them a forever residence with their Creator, the Father all broken orphans long for.

The song “Name” (by the Goo Goo Dolls) describes the predicament of orphans:

All the dreams you never thought you’d lose
Got tossed along the way.
… And now we’re grown-up orphans
Who never knew their names.
We don’t belong to no one, that’s a shame.

Meanwhile, the song “King Of Hearts” (by Randy Stonehill) describes the predicament and the remedy:

All alone, drifting wild,
Like a ship that’s lost out on the ocean.
Everyone’s a homeless child
And it’s not hard to understand
Why we need a Father’s hand.
… You’re just running in circles
Till you reach out your hand to the King of hearts.

Another song — the Michael Kelly Blanchard classic “There is Still a King of Hearts” — likewise speaks to the theme of our orphaned brokenness and our need for the true love that is found ultimately in the true King of hearts:

There is still a King of hearts, ruler of our shattered realms.
Though our kingdoms come apart, and the fault is in ourselves.
There is still some royalty haunting our dark ruins of soul.
One whose priceless poverty shames us with all our hoards of gold.
… With His love the lost are saved from self-dungeons so dark and cruel.
Oh Jesus, closer than the air,
Welcomed visitor to flesh.
Turn this my castle grim and bare
To Your Spirit’s home of rest.
May Your presence bless.


WE’VE CONTEMPLATED the striking pre-Cubs name of Frank Chance’s team — the Chicago Orphans.

What about his name? Frank Chance — also striking … and thought-provoking.

The Creator of the universe evidently took a chance when He created human beings. According to the biblical record, the first humans committed the flagrant foul that plunged the human race into sorrow and loss — yet God installed the playing field. His decision to create humans in His image with freedom of choice was, safe to say, an incredible risk.

Since God knew beforehand the worst-case scenario of human history and eternity, why would He risk it? Knowing the cost to Himself — His grief and extreme heartbreak, the excruciating death of God incarnate — why would He take such an inconceivable chance?

Apparently, even given all that downside, the risk/reward was (and is) worth it to God. Which means a human heart turned toward Him in affection and need and intimacy, in the midst of this world’s pain and beauty, is worth it to God.

Bottom line: To our Creator, being in close relationship with us was worth an agonizing Friday that we paradoxically call Good.


“HEART IN CHAMPIONS has to do with the depth of our motivation and how well your mind and body react to pressure — that is, being able to do what you do best under maximum pain and stress.”

The source of this quote? Bill Russell.

The champion’s heart he describes is tied to perseverance and longsuffering. Just ask the Chicago Cubs: After player-manager Frank Chance led them to the 1908 World Series crown, the Cubs had to wait more than a century — until 2016 — to win another World Series.

Who best epitomizes such a heart? Perhaps there are as many answers to this question as there are stars in the sky.

But on my better days, I believe one star shines brightest — the One who endured maximum pain and stress as He was executed on a desperate first-century Friday in the Roman Empire. The One who has asked no human to take any chance that He did not take himself.

Yes, the One who is the incarnate, crucified and risen Creator’s Son — Jesus of Nazareth, the best player-coach in history.

Related Post — The Best Player-Coach Ever, Part 3

© Bruce William Deckert 2018

FAST Blast: The Best Player-Coach Ever — Bill Russell or a First-Century Superstar?


HALL OF FAMER BILL RUSSELL won 11 NBA championships, all with the Boston Celtics. He was a five-time league MVP. Old-school basketball fans are familiar with the incredible exploits of the legendary center.

What’s lesser-known is this: For the last two titles in that amazing stretch — in 1968 and 1969 — Russell was Boston’s player-coach. Further, he was the first African-American coach in the NBA, according to

After the ’69 title, Russell retired on top, riding off into the proverbial sunset. In 1980, he was voted the “Greatest Player in the History of the NBA” by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. Since then, Michael Jordan and perhaps LeBron James have laid claim to that lofty honor, although some still say that Russell is the NBA’s best ever.

What’s indisputable is that Russell has the most championships as a player in NBA history. And two came while he was also the coach.

The concept of player-coach is intriguing — even more so when we consider the bedrock reality of the Christian faith: God incarnate. The cornerstone of the Christian worldview is that God entered the arena of human history. But once in the arena, he didn’t sit in a VIP seat or stand on the sideline as a coach. Rather, he joined the fray on the field of play, essentially as a player-coach.


I grew up in the Church, so I’m no stranger to this notion. At the same time, I’ve wrestled with questions — mainly, whether the Christian faith is true. By the way, I have the same question about every other faith, philosophy and worldview: Are any of them true? Or is truth so elusive in this life that it’s beyond discovery?

Jesus of Nazareth is the ultimate player-coach proclaimed by the Christian faith, the pivotal figure in human history, according to the biblical record. He says that truth can be known because He can be known, and He is the Person most worth knowing, and He is the embodiment of truth — again, according to the biblical record.

His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection are the three most essential events known to humankind, and they’ve resulted in what the human heart longs for, the new start of a new creation — yes, according to the biblical record.

Yet how can we know the biblical record, penned by ancient writers, is actually historical? In fact, given the congenital tendency of human nature to fib, fabricate and otherwise falsify, how can we know that any written record — whether ancient or modern — is historical and true?

Let’s revisit these existential and postmodern questions in a moment. But first let’s look at some quotes of record — as reported by 21st-century writers — about the fine art of coaching in the context of our player-coach discussion.


Conchita Martinez, who won the 1994 Wimbledon title, coached tennis star Garbine Muguruza during her run to the Wimbledon title in 2017. During the tournament, Muguruza said of her coach:

“She’s helping me to deal with the stress — it’s a long tournament. She knows how to prepare, how to train … having her by my side gives me confidence.”

“Having her by my side…” Sound familiar? Jesus is described in the gospels as “Immanuel, God with us” — the player-coach who knows how to prepare and train because he’s been there. The player-coach who is on our side.

Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is working to complete his college degree in criminal justice and has forged a close friendship with judge Donald R. Zuidmulder, who has served as a life coach for the former Pro Bowler. Says Clinton-Dix: “He’s kind of like my second grandfather. It’s definitely a blessing to have him on my side.”

Notice the theme? Here’s another quote in the same ballpark…

Soccer manager Pep Guardiola, who coaches Manchester City, was previously the manager at Barcelona. Another coach, Stuart Pearce, once visited Guardiola at Barcelona. Says Pearce: “He gave me a great insight into how to be a good manager. As we said goodbye and walked away, he turned around and said, ‘By the way, get a Messi in your side.'”

FYI, American fans: “side” means “team” — and of course “Messi” refers to Lionel Messi, who is regarded as the best player in the game today … by Barcelona supporters, anyway. Real Madrid fans say this designation belongs to Cristiano Ronaldo. Among soccer fans worldwide, the general consensus is that the debate about who holds the best-player title begins and ends with these two luminaries.


“Get a Messi in your side,” Pep Guardiola advises his fellow soccer coaches. Or, if the NBA is your league of choice, get Bill Russell on your team as your player-coach.

Biblical writers advise something similar — get Jesus of Nazareth by your side, on your side, and in your side.

He’s the epitome of every stellar player and player-coach in the universe. He’s the only person — the quintessential Person — who can raise your game so your endgame is knowing Him as the author of life and thus becoming the best person you can be. Apart from Him, New Testament writers say, we’re left with the worst we can be … in the worst-case scenario, forever.

Jesus is the way we can ultimately become the shining stars we were meant to be … forever.

As He declares in the gospel of John: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” A controversial statement in a postmodern world? Perhaps — but the key question is this: Does it reflect reality? In other words, is it true? Which brings us back to the existential question regarding how we can know what’s truly true and historically accurate.

C.S. Lewis, the noted British writer and scholar, connects the question to the issue of authority:

“Don’t be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you’ve been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.

“I believe there is such a place as New York. I haven’t seen it myself. I couldn’t prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority — because the scientists say so.

“Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.” — from Mere Christianity

So authority and trust go hand in hand. No one can avoid the issue — scientists, theologians, historians, journalists and sports fans alike … plus everyone else across the spectrum of disciplines and worldviews.

By the way, I have this on good authority: The best player-coach is the best Person to have on your side.

Related Post — The Best Player-Coach Ever, Part 2

© Bruce William Deckert 2018


FAST Blast: An invitation to visit Serengeti Stadium in the New Year


This FAST Blast represents a first — the first time I’ve posted about Serengeti Friendship: Soccer Forgiveness, a book for young people of all ages that was part of the World Cup Exhibit at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The revised edition, published in November 2017, is available at

How did I hear about the book? OK, full disclosure: I wrote it.

On the one hand, I hesitate to tell you about the book because I hope to avoid an unhealthy self-promotion. On the other hand, I believe the story is worth reading, and in order for people to read it, apparently they need to know about it.

In that vein, I had an opportunity to write about Serengeti Friendship for the Sports Spectrum magazine website. Here’s the link to that article:

‘Serengeti Friendship’ offers amazing take on friends, forgiveness for young people and families

In Serengeti Friendship: Soccer Forgiveness, Serengeti Stadium is the host site for the Wild Animal World Cup. If you make the trip for the big event, I hope you enjoy the scenery and the soccer action.

Happy New Year — and best to you and yours in 2018!

— Bruce William Deckert