I love football. As this video is being recorded, the first high school game was last week. Ahhh, it feels good to be under the Friday night lights. Where everything is right. This is where I feel at home.
I’m part of the “chain gang”. I hold that stake that marks the line of scrimmage and tells you what down it is – it’s called “the box” and it is the most critical. I’ve worked my way up the ranks to hold this prestigious position – kinda the captain of the chain gang. I get to be right in the middle of the coaches and players. The intensity and focus of the coaches is truly amazing. I get to sample a new set of coaches with every game. I’ve seen a lot of great coaches. And some, well, not so great.
The “chain gang” is actually a part of the officiating squad. I take my responsibilities seriously. We get the same complimentary cold beverage from the concession stand at half time as the zebra shirted referees!
So I’m going to let you in on some little known secrets about referees.
First of all, they’re human. Yes, they make some bad calls. When this happens, a coach usually just gives the referee a firm, yet respectful heads up to register his objection. In most cases, later in the game, the ref will “even it up” with a discretionary flag on the other team. Sometimes, they’ll let the coach know “now we’re even”. It’s of no consequence and does not effect the final score of the game.
Sometimes I see coaches go too far. They rant and rave, throw their clipboard, headgear, hat, or some other object to the ground in their outrage. You know, I’ve never seen a ref impressed with their display of rage and reverse a call – and they’re not likely to “even up” that one!
It breaks my heart when I see otherwise good coaches loose it. They are setting a very bad example for their players. They are no longer coaching. Their focus is no longer on the game, their coaching staff, or the players. Their anger has siphoned away their effectiveness as a leader. And they did it to themselves. Sad.
By the way, there is an appropriate and strategic scenario for a coach to pitch a fit. Not like the one I’ve described above. More of an act or drama than actual anger. When a questionable flag is thrown, the idea is to create enough emotional trauma and distress in the referee’s mind so as to cause the official to hesitate before throwing that flag next time. It’s all part of the game.
Controlling our passion and anger is not unique to the coaching profession. Anger manifests itself in lots of ways, but what’s in common is the fact that the angered person… loses!
I see it on Twitter all the time. Someone is expressing their point of view – proclaiming their cause. Putting points on the board so to speak. That is until someone makes a negative or provocative reply – or maybe and insincere question. Suddenly, the formerly effective social media warrior is like the coach angry at the referee. Their focus is no longer on proclaiming their cause. Now it’s arguing with a troll in most cases. The trolls provocation worked! Trolls seldom have any real influence of their own. That’s why they need to attach their message to someone who is influential. They hope to get their message across by hitching a ride on someone else’s tweet. It isn’t very effective since most twitter “conversations” are pushed way down the page. Not many people scroll down that far. Until that is, the provoked replies. Suddenly, the trolls message is exposed to the entire following of the person being provoked – at the top of the timeline. Not only is the person no longer proclaiming their own message, they are now down in the weeds fighting a flame war with someone who doesn’t matter and cannot be persuaded. And they did it to themselves. They should have reminded themselves of this very simple truth:
The lion careth not what the lamb thinketh!
I’ve never seen anyone say “you know, I’ve been considering your arguments and have come to realize that I have been wrong and you are right. Please sign me up for your cause.”
Whether it’s an angry coach or a passionate tweeter, there’s a biblical principle in play here. Ephesians 6:10-18 is known as the “Full Armor” passage. The entire context is one of defense, not offense. We are instructed to stand firm, not attack. The various elements such as the shield, boots, breastplate, helmet, etc – these are not weapons, they are protection from weapons. Even the “sword” of the spirit is a defensive weapon. The original word is “gladius” a dagger like knife that was used in hand to hand combat after the defensive perimeter was compromised or breached. It was not a long sword like the ones used by pirates to take over a ship, nor was it used to project harm to the enemy at a distance such as a bow and arrow, spear, catapult, etc.
In summary, passion is a good servant, but a cruel master. Don’t let your passion become poison!
That’s what’s on my mind. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.
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