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Character in sport and religion - Johnny Jackson

As the skies grow darker and the days shorter, the consummate sports fanatic can rejoice in his or her primal urge to get more of what they love.

It's September, and the flirt of fall is just around the corner.

This is always the most interesting time of year to me. It's when umpteen sports merge their seasons together and you can't seem to get enough of that sports entertainment.

It's tennis, it's football, it's track, it's golf, it's baseball, it's really whatever you want. Call this month sweeps for sports fans.

Sometimes undermined is the value of sports in life and how we deal with life. While there increasingly seems to be a number of those in sports who don't wholly see the virtues of sports, there are enough to take as examples.

I've looked back recently on my involvement, both as a participant and as an observer of sports and competition.

I'm glad to say I have participated in about as many such endeavors of sport and competition as I have witnessed or observed.

And, for me, that may have made some difference in my character.

That is, it is not that I strive to be who I am; I just am.

On almost a weekly basis, I encounter a homeless person standing alongside an interstate exit - once a week or several times a week. And each time, I give him or her whatever money I have stashed in the console of my car - usually a dollar or two worth of coins.

I remember one occasion vividly when one man standing alongside my car, receiving the little bit I had to give at the time, asked if I was a Christian.

He said he could tell. And I replied, yes, even though I thought differently.

I thought, to myself, it is not because I am Christian that I am giving you money. I gave the man money, because I wanted to give the man money.

I figure the man, and most religious "hey-sayers" think that fears based in religion are why good deeds should be done.

I was certainly raised in a Baptist church and know a little bit about the rigidity of religious precepts: do good or suffer hell.

I've noticed in my young adult life that religion has become a sort of guide to virtuous deeds as opposed to being a guide to virtue.

I prefer the latter. I don't necessarily have to be told what is a good deed in order to do it.

I am told I am a generous person. And I think it is by nature and experience, not religion, that I am. I've never known a person who learned to be empathetic by religion alone.

To my experiences, not to my religion, I owe my generosity and character. Religion and sports both could use some decent ambassadors right about now.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Henry Daily Herald. His column appears on Mondays. He can be reached at (770) 957 - 9161 or via e-mail at jjackson@henryherald.com.