I Don’t Need Sex, I Have Basketball

29 Jun

It was the moment I had been waiting for.

I was eating lunch and chatting with two guys from the basketball team I have been coaching here, called the Gulu Hawks, after our first game last Sunday.  For an hour and a half I was barraged by the topic of “Sex”; one of the players described his relationship with his girlfriend and his personal views of sex.  It was more than disheartening to hear some of the shortsighted thoughts he had and how focused he seemed to be on the immediate fulfilling of needs.  My heart sank as I listened to this man who was also heavily involved in alcohol as a means of entertainment and coping.

I understand that alcohol and an unhealthy view on sex can be just as pervasive and destructive back home, but I was searching my heart as to why it felt more serious and more depraved in this context.  Maybe it is because it seemed that every man I encountered here is more than happy with multiple partners whether they were married or not, and that if sex isn’t “given” to them everyday then they would move on to find another woman who would answer the call or even force themselves on their partner instead of dealing with it in a healthy way.  This particular friend told me, “There are seven women to every one man in this culture, and if my girlfriend doesn’t fulfill my needs I can certainly find someone who will.”  These views, echoed by many other men I’ve talked to here, are very self-centered with little thought toward the needs of their partners.

As the conversation lingered on, my heart started to change from anger to a feeling of helplessness, like this problem was possibly too big for anybody to fix.  I mean, there has been so much education on AIDS and Gender-Based Violence in this area of the world, yet it seemed as though the positive messages still weren’t getting through.  Was there an answer or would de-valuing of women and alcoholism always be pervasive here?

During my conversation I noticed that the other player on my team sat there quietly without responding much.  As we walked home he and I branched off and said our goodbyes to his other teammate.  I then asked him what he thought of the conversation we just had.  He went on to explain that he didn’t have a girlfriend, his parents are still together and he has a great relationship with his Dad.  The next quote was what got my attention.  He said, “I don’t need sex, I have basketball”; at this point he didn’t want girls to interfere with his passion, his purpose.  Boom, like a wall falling down, I began to have a deeper understanding of the situation in northern Uganda and received confirmation in my heart that what we are doing with The Recreation Project can actually help.

You see, men here don’t have options.  After work there is no game to go to, there is no gym to work out in, or movie to go see.  You go with your guys and you drink and you go home and have sex.  These activities are entertainment in a region that is developing and deprived of all the luxuries of entertainment that other countries enjoy.  But for those that have access to recreation (and with the current infrastructure that is very few) there is another option, another way.  This particular man has an alternative focus giving him purpose in life and he was taking full advantage of it.  Through basketball, he had the ability to create balance his life and to use his energy in a positive manner while doing something that is healthy for his mind, body, and soul.  You can give a person all the education in the world, but I believe if you give him a ball or a forest to play in that you will see years of talking points start to become a reality.

Since having this conversation I am more motivated than ever for the work we are doing here.  Providing outlets for these youth to explore their entertainment options is invaluable.  Simply providing another option to live out one’s social existence helps create balance in all areas of life, including those that have been misused or misunderstood for years.  Recreation gives us that alternative platform to teach Christ-like views on marriage, sex, alcohol, and many other things.

“I don’t need sex, I have basketball”.  Our vision is already starting to become a reality.

– Zach

6 Responses to “I Don’t Need Sex, I Have Basketball”

  1. Lindsay Mader 30. Jun, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    Zach!! What a awesome and encouraging blog. I’m so excited for your new encouragement and purpose. The topic of sex and using it in the way God had planned has always been really important to me, so I thought your insight was really neat to read. Thank you so much for sharing. We miss you both alot!

  2. Phil Tackett 12. Jul, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Hey Zach… that is so awesome. It is funny how your situation in Uganda isn’t so far off base from the situation here in Papillion. So many high school guys and girls have such a casual view on sex and promiscuity it just floors me. Your words of wisdom and insight will be of a great use here also. Especially when I make some HS boys read it! Thanks and stay safe.

    Phil Tackett… cop at Papillion Junior High. Go Titans!

    ps. I have some free basketballs and soccer balls(uninflated). Could you use them? Let us know. We will be praying for you guys.

  3. Zach Hoins 15. Jul, 2010 at 4:51 am #

    Lindsay – Thanks so much for the encouragement! We are learning a lot here and God continues to open our eyes to how he wants to use us here.

    Phil – I hope those boys do read it! I remember walking those same halls and dealing with all the things they will be faced with.

    We can never have enough soccer and basketballs! If you do have some, just get them to my dad somehow and I will have him get them to Africa.

    We are also going to have some cool ways for high schoolers and junior highers to get involved very soon, I will keep you posted!

  4. Emily Heitzman Wilkins 20. Jul, 2010 at 7:52 am #

    Hey Zachie, what an incredible story. I definitely believe that God is already working through your ministry and beginning to transform these men. Thank you for what you do. You are such an inspiration! Please let me know if you do have some opportunities for jr. and sr. highers to get involved… even if it’s from Chicago (like collecting items, becoming pen pals/prayer partners with your teens, etc). I would love to get my youth involved.

  5. Brian 21. Jul, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    That’s what she said! well done guys.

  6. Patrick Ssebikejje 20. Aug, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Wow! This is some powerful stuff. I remember seeing similar stuff growing up down in southern Uganda (much of which is still prevalent in the rural areas today) and it wasn’t pleasant to be around or see. But disturbingly, it was often accepted as normal behavior that men engage in -to drink as much as one pleases, to cheat with as many women as one could (even when some affairs were adulterous) as though it were a hobby. Thanks to you all for your willingness to do God’s work in a region that desperately needs His guidance.

    God’s love and mine.

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