Thursday, September 14, 2006
T-Ball Coach Mark Downs Has Lost His Moorings
Mark R. Downs, 29, of Dunbar, Pennsylvania, coaches 8 and 9-year-old boys in baseball. Near the season’s end there is a tournament, which is typical for most youth leagues. And also typical is a rule that says every player on the team must play some number of innings. That of course attempts to keep coaches from being so competitive that they only play their best 9 players and every other kid then sits on the bench for the whole tournament. Most parents have faced the ordeal of encouraging their child when they don’t get much if any playing time.
Downs apparently was overtaken by his competitiveness because he offered one of his players $25 to hurt a 9-year-old mentally disabled teammate. Obviously if the child was hurt then Downs would not have to put him in the game.
Eight-year-old Keith Reese testified in court that Downs made him the offer before a June 27 playoff game. “He told me if I would hit Harry (Bowers) in the face he would pay me $25,” Keith said.
Today a jury convicted Downs of two misdemeanor charges and acquitted him of the more serious charge, a felony count of criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault.
Most of the commentary (journalistic and blogger) about Downs just says he is a jerk. Maybe. More precisely I contend that Downs has lost his moorings.
When a ship is moored or tied to a dock, it is prevented from drifting away and being lost. God creates people with unique and purposeful design. People have tremendous capacity to enrich and bless. When we become “untied” or disconnected from God, when we lose our moorings, then we are left to the ravages of the seas and we become broken and fallen. Downs squandered a strategic place in the lives of boys to enrich and bless their lives.
I pray for Downs to experience a “wake-up” call and use this episode to turn his life around. He is the father of two daughters. I also pray for the boys that the trauma of testifying in court and the sad memory of a spoiled summer can be used for positive life lessons. All would benefit greatly by being connected to the Creator.