The Jungle

The Jungle

College basketball coaches say that one of the toughest places to play is in the Neville Arena in Auburn. It’s referred to as “The Jungle.” Rece Davis of ESPN said that the intensity is as good as anything you will see anywhere.

Homecourt advantage has always been important in basketball. Normally it’s considered to be worth about two points. The Jungle has raised that bar to where it’s conceded that homecourt advantage in The Jungle is about six plus points.

The Jungle didn’t just happen—it is organized. Fifteen Auburn students make up “The Jungle staff.” They meet weekly to discuss everything from merchandise distribution to crowd control methods to see that The Jungle runs as smoothly as possible. Their goal is to ensure that game days are always enjoyable for Auburn students—and they help Auburn win.

The “King” of The Jungle is its president Grayson Harbin. His leadership has raised The Jungle to a new level. He says his greatest satisfaction is “seeing how much of an impact we have made not only of men’s basketball but other sports we handle as well. We have broken attendance records at both women’s basketball and volleyball this year.”

The Jungle is not the first reference to the advantage of playing for a home crowd. Hebrews 12:1 uses the backdrop of an athletic event, a race, to describe how people can win in the game of life. They were running in front of a huge group of fans who were pulling for them. Read Hebrews 11 and you see a litany of great heroes of the faith who are in Heaven pulling for and cheering on every person who is running for the home team.

The home court is an advantage because athletes perform better when an atmosphere is created where they are encouraged, cheered for, and hear chants that express encouragement to them. In life, we need to remember that we have that same home court advantage as the great Biblical heroes who have gone before us and are cheering for us.

I hope you are a part of some kind of small group, accountability group, or people who are cheering for you to become all that God wants you to be. This is a day of spiritual warfare. Satan is trying to win your life and he is most effective when he gets you by yourself. He will outsmart you in one-on-one situations. But if you are a part of a community—a supportive group, Satan has to go against not only God but also a group of people who are on your team. He can’t deal with that.

Two of my favorite church members at Frazer were Tommy Neville, who was an all-pro lineman with the New England Patriots, and Mike Kolen, who was an all-pro linebacker for the Miami Dolphins when they went undefeated and won the Super Bowl. There are some places in Montgomery that I would not go by myself at night. They are not safe. But I was willing to go anywhere in Montgomery at any time of the day or night with Tommy and Mike because I knew that I was with a couple of guys who would not only cheer me on but would protect me.

The most important game in town is the game of your life. Every day you can know that you have God and his people surrounding you to encourage, convict, and inspire you. That is Satan’s biggest obstacle and your greatest asset!

Organize your Jungle!

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