November 24, 2021

I love the game of football. The bright lights, the sound of the band, the roar of the crowd, and the thrill of game is something that I have enjoyed since I can remember. I love the hard hits, the well-executed plays, the joy of seeing my team win (I hope) and so much more that accompanies the game on the gridiron.  I plan on watching as much football as possible during the Thanksgiving break.

Football is a violent game. Some people love the aggressive nature of the sport while others would prefer a more peaceful experience. I can understand that.  That is why I love the story of Keith Orr and the Olivet Middle School football team.  It is a story that combines both the thrill of the game and the joy of kindness in one beautiful moment.

Keith Orr is not the first person you would expect to see suited up in pads, ready to do battle on the gridiron. Keith is a small boy for his age.  He is also learning disabled and has struggles with social interaction.  Even though Keith does not seem to be cut from the same mold as the other football players on his team, he has found a home with them.  Every time Keith dresses out for practice and games, he is treated as just another player.

During the hard work of a football season, the players on the Olivet team went out of their way to plan a remarkable play. Without the knowledge of even their coach, the team decided that the offense would get as close to their goal line as possible, without scoring. That is exactly what they did, taking a knee at the one-yard line. The players then convinced the coach to send in Keith.  Keith took the ball from the quarterback, and with the protection of his team, he scored.  It was an incredible moment for Keith and everyone in the stadium!

Later the team was interviewed by CBS.  Justice Miller, the wide receiver, said, “Once I saw him go in, I was smiling. Nothing could wipe that smile off my face.” That day, the Olivet Middle School football team demonstrated a valuable lesson. Their hard work, dedication and skill brought them a victory in the game, but their kindness blessed a life.  Kindness always has a place in what we are doing. Even in the most aggressive of sports, during a spirited competition, kindness is an action that makes a difference, not only in our lives, but also in the lives of those around us.

– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship