The Dirty Tackle

What is the dirtiest tackle you have ever seen? When was the last time someone clearly broke the rules and delivered some physical punishment to you on the pitch? How did you respond?

Sports reveal character. In many ways, situations you encounter on the field mirror circumstances you face on the job, while driving, or in family relationships. Cheap shots, verbal abuse, and injuries are not limited to athletic competitions. Do you ever take time to think about how you would like to respond to these infractions?

In the heat of the game, some people strike back with physical revenge. There are players who look to the referee to maintain justice and bring an appropriate penalty by selecting a red card. Well-intentioned athletes refrain from stooping to the level of low blows, but inwardly hold on to bitterness and malice long after the match.

Athletes can be targets for hostile aggression. As a goalkeeper, fans enjoyed sitting behind me, being as rude and obnoxious as possible. I still have a scar on my knee where stitches were required after an opposing forward lunged into my knee, feet first, long after the ball was secure in my hands. Like helplessly watching an approaching car crash into your vehicle at a stop-light, sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid the collision or attack. There are positive decisions you can make even in the worst situations.

There is one choice you always have: how you want to respond. Let’s explore an option that is, unfortunately, often seen as wimpy. Our children who are in pre-school have a saying: Strong enough to wait and be patient. This is true for people of all ages. One of the most ancient historical books has guided and changed my heart in handling adversity and overcoming injustice. The Bible says forgive one another just as God forgives you through Jesus.

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I have made terrible comments on athletic fields and physically retaliated during intense games. Looking back, I do not think it ever helped me, my team, or what I would want to represent. Think about it this way: if you were coaching a team of boys or girls, how would you advise them? ‘Play hard, be physical, but do not step over the line or get involved by exchanging blows’ is sound instruction.

When I played on very talented teams, it was quite predictable that the other team would resort to dirty plays both when the referee was and was not looking. Have you been in that situation very often? It is difficult to have self-control!

On becoming a Christian, my responses began to change. I remember when an opponent grabbed my jersey and threw me down on the ground. I stayed quiet and calm. It had an effect on him. He then asked me where I go to church! Years later, he decided to follow Jesus.

Obviously, difficult situations do not always result in a moral or spiritual transformation! You can, however, have the peace of mind that comes with integrity. When your reactions on the pitch are solid, they tend to carry over into other aspects of your life. Being on the receiving end of a dirty tackle is your opportunity to introduce someone to taking the high road.

Feel free to join the discussion by commenting below.

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