Welcome back to week 6 of my fall blog series FTSL (From the Sidelines), where I’m sharing lessons and inspirations discovered along the sidelines of my boys’ fall sports. Because, truly, life’s lessons can be found both on and off the field for people of all ages.
This week’s topic: risks and consequences.
I knew before leaving my oldest son’s soccer double-header that this would be the topic of choice for today’s FTSL, as there were several excellent examples/lessons displayed this week. We all know that life is all about making choices and taking risks—this isn’t anything you haven’t heard before. In sports, those risks are increased exponentially by their very nature.
Now, let’s look at just soccer for a moment, shall we?
Players are running at each other, offense vs. defense, each side intent on achieving opposite results. During a game, individuals on the field often must make split-second decisions, and each one comes with a risk. Legs might get tangled, bodies may collide, the wind might get knocked out of someone—all this in an effort to take/keep possession of the ball and/or score a goal.
As a parent, close encounters between players are scary to watch. You can feel the sideline collectively suck in a sharp breath when players collide or fall. But, as we have all come to understand, those interactions are a part of the game. (As one mom put it, “We tell our daughter not to be afraid to get in front of the ball—it’ll only hurt for a few minutes.”)
Taking risks is part of the game. So are their consequences.
We have a player on our team whose skills exceed most of the other players. I can tell even without asking that this kid has played A LOT and likely comes from a family full of soccer players. Because of his superior skills, often he is a ball hog keeps the ball and drives through “traffic” on his way to attempt scoring a goal for our team. And if the defense is tough, he isn’t afraid to get aggressive along the way—he’ll risk getting tripped, he’ll risk body-checking into other players (to a mother’s horror, apparently that is legal if done correctly?!) along the way. The payoff, so far, has resulted in him being our team’s leading scorer.
But sometimes he takes risks he doesn’t necessarily have to take. He’ll retain possession of the ball when another player nearby is open. A safer option would be to pass the ball, get down field, and wait for them to pass it back. But he doesn’t. He’s too focused on getting to the goal, and not focused enough on his teammates. He’s taking risks as an individual, without regard to the rest of the team.
So what are the possible consequences? Ideally, if he’s really on top of his game and the defense is soft, he’ll score a goal. But what about the not-so-ideal consequences? What if he gets hurt and has to come off the field? Now the entire team may suffer the loss of their best player, possibly for the rest of the season. Or what if he rarely/never passes the ball? Then his other teammates may grow to resent him for being a perpetual ball hog.
A second example of this actually occurred along the far sidelines. The other team’s coach got mouthy. He took a risk, airing his displeasure about some play calls. And then he made a big mistake: he swore at the ref. The consequence? Instant red card, immediate ejection from the game.
Did the coach consider how his actions might impact his team before he spouted off? I don’t know, but his decision cost the team their coach for the rest of the game. His individual decision affected that entire group of kids, not just himself.
The point I’m trying to make here is that the risks we take, either on or off the field, don’t always just affect us—they affect everyone around us. It’s easy to get caught up in ourselves, to keep our eyes on our own goals, and to assume that our risks only affect us individually. But unless you’re a hermit living in a cave somewhere, your decisions—and their associated risks and consequences—may very well also affect those around you.
Sometimes, even more than they affect ourselves.
So the next time you’re faced with a decision and stop to weigh its risks and potential consequences, take an extra moment to think: how will my actions affect those around me? You may discover that what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gaggle.
Have a great week, everyone.