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Jeremy, Justin, and their friend Udo were practicing for a big soccer game. If their team, the Tigers, won, they could go to the playoffs and maybe even be champions!
“Won’t it be great to get a trophy?” Justin said dreamily.
“It would be super!” said Jeremy, giving the ball a hard kick.
Swoosh! The ball landed in the center of the goal net.
“If you keep making goals like that, we’re sure to be champs!” said Udo.
“I wouldn’t worry about winning if I were you.”
The three boys turned to see another boy holding a soccer ball.
“The Sharks are my team, and my team always wins.”
“Oh, uh . . . hi, Bradley,” said Jeremy.
He turned and pointed to his teammates.
“This is Justin and Udo.”
Bradley shrugged. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The Sharks will trounce you so hard on Saturday I’ll probably never see ya again anyway.”
Bradley turned and jogged back down the field where his team was practicing.
“What was that all about?” asked Justin.
“Never mind him,” said Jeremy. “He’s just a kid I know. He’s never nice.”
“And we’re playing against his team? Great.” Justin sighed nervously.
“Are they all mean like him?” asked Udo, frowning at the Sharks team practicing at the other end of the field.
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll be fine,” Jeremy said. “Just do your best.”
On Saturday morning, Jeremy and Udo were walking toward the soccer field when Bradley rode up on his bike.
“I’m looking forward to crushing all you Tigers today,” he said.
“Oh, really? What makes you so sure we won’t crush the Sharks?” Jeremy replied.
“Because you guys are too nice,” Bradley answered. “The Tigers are a bunch of wimps. You’re all so polite and obey the rules and junk like that.”
“Doing what’s right doesn’t make us wimpy,” said Jeremy.
“We obey the rules because we want to please God,” Udo added.
Bradley shrugged. “Yeah—whatever. Just be ready to go home crying!” he shouted as he jogged away to meet up with his team.
Jeremy shook his head. “Wow, it sure is hard to be nice to guys like that.”
“Yes,” Udo agreed. “But my dad says we should be a good example and obey God at all times.”
“Yep, that’s what my dad says, too.”
The Tigers and the Sharks faced each other on the soccer field. At first, the Tigers did pretty well, scoring a goal right away.
“Jeremy!” shouted Justin. “It’s to you!”
Justin passed the soccer ball to his teammate. Jeremy turned toward the goal and prepared to give the ball a good, hard kick. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a player from the Sharks appeared—it was Bradley. He attacked the ball, kicking wildly at Jeremy’s shins.
“Hey! Ow!” Jeremy hollered.
“Waa, waa! You gonna cry?” Bradley sneered as he stole the ball and dribbled it down the field.
As Udo ran after Bradley, another Shark player gave him a push, causing Udo to stumble and fall.
The player called out, “Aww, poor baby fall down?”
Udo got up and brushed off his knees then sprinted down the field after the ball. After that, things went from bad to worse. It seemed every Shark player started to kick, trip, shove, and play as mean as possible. Justin got kicked twice in the back of the leg. Jeremy got elbowed and shoved, and Udo was covered with grass stains and mud from being knocked down.
The Tigers played hard, but the Sharks scored to tie the game 1–1. With time running out, Bradley managed to steal the ball from Justin, after stomping on his foot, and he passed it far down the field to a teammate, who scored the winning goal for the Sharks: 2–1.
As the Sharks cheered, the Tigers limped over to Coach Martin.
“That was a hard game, guys, but you all did great! Now who will line up first to shake hands with the Sharks?”
The Tigers all looked at each other, hoping someone else would go. None of them wanted to be anywhere near the Sharks.
“Come on, guys,” said the coach. “Let’s be a good example.”
Jeremy looked around. “I guess I’ll go first,” he said.
Jeremy led his team to where the Sharks were celebrating.
“Hey, Bradley, uh, congratulations.” Jeremy held out his hand for Bradley to shake.
Bradley stared at Jeremy, ignoring his hand. “Told ya we’d win.”
Then he turned and walked away. Some of the Sharks offered to shake hands while others just walked away with Bradley.
As the two teams were leaving the field, one of the Sharks ran up to Jeremy and his friends.
“Hey, Tigers!” he said. “Good game. You guys showed me how to play hard and be a good sport.”
“What do you mean?” asked Jeremy.
“Well, our team plays rough, and some of the guys even cheat. I know it’s not right, but I’ve always been afraid to say anything. Today I saw how you guys did what was right and still came to shake hands after everything we did. That was brave.”
“Thanks,” Jeremy said.
“I’m going to talk to my parents and my coach,” the boy continued. “Our team is good, but we can be even better if we choose to do what’s right, like you.”
“Maybe when we play again, we can all play fair,” said Jeremy.
“Sounds great!” said the Shark as he gave Jeremy a high five.
Justin & Jessie show kids how the Bible applies to real life! These weekly stories are part of Answers Bible Curriculum, our full-Bible, chronological Sunday school program for all ages.