A Turn for the Worse? Maybe.December 9, 2005
I apologize in advance to a section of this blog’s participants. Many of you are from outside Sacramento and Northern California, and therefore my regional comments are going to seem distant. Second, just as many of you are not basketball fans and today’s blog subject may be lost on you. But I hope to apply my observation to a much larger arena (no pun intended) than basketball and Sacramento.
Right now, the local basketball team, the Kings, are awful. I mean, they are embarrassing to watch. Three seasons ago, they lost only 2 of their 41 home games. Last night, they lost their 7th game at home out of 13. They sit in last place. This morning on the sports radio station the callers were blaming the coach, the players, the general manager and even the League. I believe two groups were not blamed that need to share it: The fans and the owners. Why those two?
The fans cause problems for their team because of such high expectations. Kings fans have had six playoff seasons in a row and the fans expect the same this year. As they begin to lose at home, the pressure builds near the end of the game. As the fans get nervous, so do the players. During last night’s loss to Houston, a television announcer commented (when Houston was losing by 13) that all the Rockets had to do was get close and the pressure of the fans would cause Sacramento to implode. That is exactly what happened. I predict that the Kings will put it together next time they go on a long road trip, believe it or not.
But the owners also must take responsibility. They have spent the last four years going on the cheap for new players. They are so preoccupied with building casinos and purchasing companies that they haven’t wanted to lose money with the Kings. After all, the team sells out every game, so they have scrimped and saved by only paying for five good players at a time. Now, they have no decent bench players at all. They also have no star to rely on in stressful times (one of maybe four teams in the league without a legitimate go-to-guy).
I am curious to see how their demise affects this city. For the last five years, as the Kings have been winning, the city has also seen unprecedented growth, both in terms of people and property values. Most home values have tripled since 1999. During that time, the number one value in town was “success”. This affected the religious community as well. Every church in town has been compared with the other churches in town to see who was the meteoric star on the horizon. Now, the housing market has collapsed. Now, the Kings are collapsing. Now interest rates are rising, so no one can re-mortgage their home again to buy more toys with. Now, Sacramento has to live like the rest of the world again. I will be surprised to see if it has a positive affect on the community.
As you look at your community, you will see seasons like this. Seasons when everything that had been going right suddenly takes a turn for the worse. Usually, three things happen during that time. First, those who were only there for a good time will leave. Fair weather Kings fans won’t renew their seasons tickets. People will grab whatever equity they can and move. Second, some will begin to complain bitterly about how much they hate the town. They won’t move, but they will make others miserable by their comments. Third, a much smaller group will decide to start making a difference in the areas that matter the most. This is usually when prayer champions and new, important ministries are often born.
I wait to see what will come of this downturn. I hope it is the release of new God-things.
UPDATE: You might find this blog entry from Internet Monk interesting on this issue I bring up here.