Coaches worry all the time that when faced with a game that they should win in a runaway the team will play “down” to the level of their opponent. In other words not play their best, but lose concentration and focus and risk an upset.
Such a phenomena is not unique to sports, we see it every day. A political candidate begins a very positive campaign, but when her opponent begins to sling mud the positive candidate lowers herself to dirty campaigning too. In business, competition begins with trying “to build a better mousetrap,” but eventually the competition disintegrates to bad-mouthing the other’s products rather than improving one’s own. I bet you have your own examples, even religions can fall into the trap of which one is the one “true faith,” rather than honoring the fact that each is seeking a pathway to God.
It takes work and effort to stay above the fray, and be true to oneself. When a bully roughs you up physically or verbally, our natural instinct is to throw physical and verbal punches too. It is only after the mud wrestling is over, does one realize what damage has been done to all concerned and that he or she has taken the bait.
I sense that mud-wrestling has become the game of choice these days, as well as who can scream loudest, and I wonder how low are we willing to go and what institutions will be left standing. Therefore, as coaches to our children, our neighbors, and ourselves we all need a major adjustment at halftime. It’s time we played “up,” and “our game,” not someone else’s. It’s time to focus our energy in honoring our institutions and all our neighbors with love, compassion, and respect.
It’s not a game anymore, and it’s not about who’d king on the mountain, gets more votes, or sells more widgets. It’s about who we are. I can hear my old coach at halftime saying, what we do in the second half is not about the other team, it’s about us and how we play.