Who we turn on when things just aren’t going right in life…
I promise that this won’t be a cricket piece about Michael Clarke.
It only begins with him.
It’s felt like yeeeeeears since I’ve read anything negative and inflammatory about our national cricket captain. I mean, he’s taken a team of veritable nobodies and had very pleasing levels of success, doubling up as our most creative captain since Mark Taylor (ironic, I know), all the while averaging about 285 … not out.
So it was with intrigue that I read the piece by Brendan McArdle, pilloring Clarke for not manning up enough under duress to bat at no. 3 in the third test, and for his responsibilities as they pertain to the admittedly terrible state of the test team, currently on tour in India and down (and out) 3-0.
It’s gotten me thinking about the role that sport plays in our lives and how we quickly and vitriolically we can turn on players and teams we support and players and teams we can’t stand, if things don’t go quite the way we want them to.
Which, let’s be honest, is more often the norm than not…
A red and black perspective
When the Essendon drugs scandal broke, part of me was glad that I had journeyed through the year without sport. It wasn’t that I wasn’t disappointed in my team; I was, but not anywhere near the level I would have been in the early 2000’s or mid to late 90’s. The Bombers have an important part to play in my (winter) life, but if they are going to be found out as drug cheats, well better them than me.
In a related story, leading our Primary Blue House to victory in last week’s school athletics has earned me many Bombers-related heckles from my friendly peers here. As I tell them, the Bombers cannot possibly be done for performance enhancing drugs last season. “We finished 11th, your honour…” “Case dismissed!”
Time away from the game/s has given me perspective. Yes I ‘love’ my team, but I got to immerse myself in life away from it all for 12 months. It was a profound season, pardon the pun. Therefore, I feel for those for whom their beloved team means so much that their emotional investment becomes unbalanced.
It’s such a shame when we blame –
- The umpires
- The coach
- The captain
- Our star player who underperformed
- The draw
- Dirty players on the opposition (Unless it’s the Boston Celtics. Then it’s true.)
- The media
when things don’t go exactly as we would have loved them to. Sport and competition are inexact sciences. When we’re not dominating India in India, it’s because they are borderline unstoppable there with their doctored pitches and rabid fans. Ok ok, my bad; see how easy it is to do? But the point remains. If you’re outplayed, take it on the chin, endeavour to do better next time.
If we are at the point where our social lives, emotional health and sense of wellbeing are dictated by a pack of players we have no personal connection to, something’s not quite right…!
Our role in it all
One thing I’m working through at the moment is that if things aren’t perfect, what is my role in it? What is it about my self-control, patience and humility that need some ironing out so that I’m not always pointing the finger at other significant figures in life?
It’s a humbling process to undergo, yet necessary if I am serious about growth, and for me, about letting God refine my character. That comes under testing and hell, I can attest to that at the moment…
So if I’m legitimately rattled when my Bombers get done or my Lakers suck (again) and I want to vehemently bag Kobe for ball hogging (again, again) or for the refs missing one of three to four fouls he receives on a drive to the basket, there’s something being clearly communicated about the impact that sport is having on my life.
If setbacks in sport and life sting to the point where you’re unable to let go, harbouring grudges and bitterness, it’s time to reassess things.
So if you’re completely peeved when someone cuts you off in traffic, the queue at Woolworths is taking for-e-ver and you just want to cut off the damn conversation that that checkout chick is having with some customer (“Can’t she see the line?!”), it only takes a little thing to really set you off, don’t point the finger elsewhere.
Is someone else really to blame for your inner frustrations and uncertainties?
Why am I so angry? What is really frustrating me? What is at the core of my discontent?
These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves.
Michael Clarke is responsible for many things, mainly scoring a tonne of runs. If he’s leading a team that gets beat, so be it.
He, nor the Bombers, Lakers or even Julia Gillard, are not to blame for the ups and downs of our own personal lives.
We have an opportunity to look within and make proactive choices about how we engage in life; intentionally think about how much emphasis we will place on aspects like our football team or favourite show, vs our family and friends.
Many don’t have that privilege.
In all of it, I’d love to tell you just to blame the Celtics, but I just don’t think you’d buy it…