By Greg Johnson
Since you were in kindergarten, soccer has been your sport. You haven’t missed a season, spring or fall. Playing competitively, you know soccer as well as anyone your age. You know the positions, the penalties, how to hit the far post goal; you know the game. You also know how to play in a controlled, aggressive way. That is, most of the time the contact you initiate is legal and fair.
At a tournament in another town, you play against a team you’ve never played before. As a right-winger, your job is to be one of the first players to push up when the ball crosses midfield. The player who is marking you is a little bigger than you—and rough. On a couple of plays early in the game he puts a hard check on you to steal the ball and move it the other way. You look at the ref for a call, but it never comes. At halftime, the score is still tied at zero.
The second half begins and you take the ball down the side. The same player moves up on you and rams you right to the ground. Finally, the whistle blows. The ref pulls out his yellow card and raises it in the air.
That will keep him off of me for a while, you think. He’s got to back off and play fair now. And he does... for about another ten minutes. That’s when your team scores. In this game, with your defense playing so well, that goal could be the game winner.
Now the defense controls the ball and switches it to your side of the field. As you race down the sideline, you see that same player coming for you again, so you stop the ball and dribble it to the middle. This catches him off guard, but he quickly recovers and starts for you again—this time from behind. Just as you enter the goal box, he puts a hard trip on you from behind. Quickly the ref blows his whistle, calls the other player over and gives him a red card! Not only is he out of the game, but this eliminates him from the next game in the tournament, too.
The coach lets you shoot the penalty shot and you put it in. The game ends, you’ve won two to nothing. After the game, it’s customary for the teams to line up and shake hands at the center of the field. As the other player passes by you have to decide what you’ll say or do.
Questions to Think On
• What would you feel like doing?
• What do you think the word “gloat” means?
• When you beat someone, whether it’s in a sport or a game, do you like to rub it in?
• Mom and Dad: What do you think is the correct way to win gracefully?
What Does God Have to Say?
You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.
But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing.