Don’t Play With The Game

Bend It Like Beckham

The game of life comes with rules and regulations, directions and instructions and do’s and don’ts. For instance, it’s just not a good idea to drink and drive. Hence the admonition, “Don’t Drink and Drive!” Then there’s the allowance for right turns on red. So that’s a good thing, right?

We’ll here’s one for everyone to follow as well: “Don’t play with the game.”

Life is nothing to play with. Since life is a game, and there are rules for games, then this is one of them. Life is too short, and tomorrow is not promised. Make the most of every moment, and don’t trifle with the sanctity of life. Living is hard enough, so breaking rules and making up your own policies is foolhardy, at best.

In the game of life there’s a game clock and half court and foul balls and penalties. Sometimes someone may commit a false start or run out of bounds or line up off-sides. Even though It happens, most times it shouldn’t. You’ll want and need to play within the rules, right?

But then again, the world has imposed some rules that need to be broken. Ours is to figure out which ones are hard and fast and which ones are flexible. For instance, what about these recent taboos:

The rule to marry within your culture?

The rule to follow the crowd?

The rule to put family first?

The rule to marry for money? (The rule actually says you should marry for love, right?)

Anyway, it takes discernment and discretion and wisdom and good judgment to play this game the right way. And since we all want to win, we should play to win. And playing to win means that you honor the guidelines and bylaws that have been time tested and proven.

So don’t play with the game. Don’t take it lightly or live it loosely. Play hard and play for keeps. And when necessary, bend it like Beckham.

Watch the film Bend It Like Beckham. You’ll see what I mean.

 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/movies/bend-it-like-beckham/8d6kgwzl5wz0

From Joy To Sorrow, and Now No “Hope” for Tomorrow for the USA Women’s Soccer Team

Hope Solo

This time, Hope was no help. In sports and in life, usually hope springs eternal and we fight to keep hope alive. But not in the 2016 Olympics for USA Women’s soccer. For Team USA, Hope Solo did not help the Soccer Sisters when they needed her help the most, and then things went from bad to worse after the whistle sounded.

For the first time in its distinguished history, the U.S. women’s soccer team has failed to advance to the semifinals of a major tournament.  The four-time Olympic gold medalists were upset by Sweden on penalty kicks, 4-3, following a 1-1 draw Friday at Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia.

The top-ranked Americans had gotten past the quarterfinals in seven World Cups and earned no worse than silver in five previous Olympics. But on this day, Sweden, guided by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, prevailed in the tiebreaker to claim a semifinal slot against Brazil or Australia on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro. And when the game was over, the post-game propaganda war began.

After the game, Hope Solo was very unsportsmanlike as she downed the team and the coach that beat them in blunt terms:

“I thought that we played a courageous game,” she told reporters. “I thought we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart. … But I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today. I strongly believe that.”

Asked to explain her criticism of the Swedes, Solo said: “They didn’t want to pass the ball. They didn’t want to play great soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their game plan was. … I don’t think they’re going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly. But they won. They’re moving on, and we’re going home.”

I have been a poor sport more than once, and you have too. And in case you’ve forgotten how to be a sourpuss and fussbudget and a cry baby, Hope Solo just gave us a rancid reminder. Hope showed us, once again, how to be a poor sport. And it’s a lesson we all need to take heed.

A poor sport is “a person who becomes unnecessarily emotional after being defeated at some sort of contest, regardless of the contests’ significance. Also could be described as a “cry baby.” 

And once again, I turn to Washington Post sports reporter Sally Jenkins to tell the story:

 RIO DE JANEIRO — “It’s called composure, and Hope Solo’s never been overburdened with a lot of that, or grace either. The U.S. women’s soccer team had their temperaments tested by a savvy, conservative Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals and lost. Solo has spent years undermining their collective equilibrium, and this one’s on her.

She’s a chronically rattled and rattling soul, the American goalkeeper. Let’s face it: For every shiny marketing moment and big victory she’s been a part of, she’s given the U.S. a nasty unwanted drama. The victories usually smoothed over her behavior. Not this time. This time she went pure loser and lout.

After giving up the winning penalty kick to Sweden, Solo called her opponents “a bunch of cowards” for their conservative game plan. Now, who is the real coward here? Solo gave up three regulation goals in the past two games, between a draw with Colombia and this loss. She tried to ice Lisa Dahlkvist on the final kick by changing her gloves, and then couldn’t lay a hand on the ball. And she couldn’t take responsibility for any of it; she could only lash out.

Sweden’s calculatedly frustrating game plan worked because the designer of that plan, Pia Sundhage, knew exactly whom she was dealing with, having coached the U.S. from 2008 to 2012. Told of Solo’s remarks in the postgame mixed zone, Sundhage said, “I don’t give a crap. I’m going to Rio, and she’s going home.”

Hope Solo 2016 Olympics

Solo’s sore, hot-head remarks were personally aimed at Sundhage, who has made it clear just how much she had to put up with in Solo as the U.S. coach. There was always some trouble following Solo, stemming either from her irradiated blot-out-the-sun ego, or her temper.”

So let’s learn the lesson. Let’s learn how to win humbly and lose graciously, all the time.

Revenge Is Sweet

Carli Lloyd_

You don’t take revenge, you get revenge. Revenge is given to you, not taken from someone.  

Godandsports

For all of the heart aches and heart breaks and missed moments and lost luck and down days and sleepless nights, you will gain revenge. If you let God get it for you. That’s the spiritual side. The natural side played out yet again yesterday in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.

The USA Women’s National Soccer team experienced a devastating World Cup loss to Japan in 2011, ending their hopes for a cup in penalty kicks. It was a bitter and biting, caustic and gnostic letdown of a loss that could have derailed the soccer program and set them back for years. Hope Solo and Abby Wambach and Ali Krieger and Alex Morgan and all of the rest of that 2011 team teetered on the brink of disaster. But not so. Disaster did not come.  Yes they suffered a suffocating loss in 2011. But that was then. And this is now.

Carli Lloyd emerged as the super star of the show and scored three times in the first sixteen minutes, the first hat-trick in a women’s final, to lead the United States to an overwhelming victory. “I’m so proud and so zapped at the same time,” Lloyd said. “It doesn’t feel real. We just made history.” Lloyd indeed was the star of stars Sunday, and throughout the tournament. On Sunday, she scored in the third, fifth and 16th minutes of play, leaving the 2011 champions stunned.

It was her third goal that summed up her spectacular play in the do-or-die matches in this Cup. Lloyd took a pass at the halfway line and deftly touched the ball around a lunging defender. Lloyd looked downfield and decided to let fly. From 55 yards out.

It should be impossible to score from that far. But as 53,341 fans watched the ball sailing through the air, Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori desperately retreated and stabbed at the ball. Even the post couldn’t deny Lloyd her history and the ball danced across the line.

And the rest is history. The final: 5-2, and it wasn’t that close. The score was 4-1 at the half, as the women decided and determined to avenge themselves and get revenge for that humbling loss four years ago.

carli-lloyd-hat-trick-world-cup

Naturally speaking, many have the mind to take action on those who have done them wrong. But don’t you do it. DON’T! You’ll only make things worse. We must not give in and give up. Especially to evil. God will avenge us of our adversaries. He will. Because He’s a righteous God and He is the righteous Judge. And the righteous Judge will do right.

So what about you? What loss or what losses do you need to get revenge for? What have you squandered that you need to get back to “even” and from where have you wandered that you have come back to eventually? I’ve had my share of bad, sad days, but like these gals, I’ve decided and determined to get revenge.

And God is the one who will get it for me.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:19-21, KJV

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.
Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.

If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

New Living Translation

God Made Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Steve

The-U.S.-Womens-Soccer-Team-An-American-Success-Story-Paperback-

In this “politically correct” society, it seems senseless to separate the women from the men when it comes to sports. At least when it comes to competing against and amongst themselves. The girls want to win just as much as the guys, right? I mean there’s no discrimination between the ladies and the gentlemen when it comes to wanting to win, right?

To be sure, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. So Adam was made in the likeness of God, and Eve, taken from man’s side, has the same attributes and elements and characteristics and qualities that men do, including the will to win. Even though we are built and wired differently, we are equal in the sight of God.

From a sports perspective, the argument for equality should be over and done with. We celebrate women AND men. This is a blog about God and sports, right?

And the United States Women’s Soccer Team proved this time honored truth yet again in defeating favored Germany in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup in Canada. Even though I did not watch, since I’m a sports fan, I care that they won. And I will be watching the title match between the US and Japan. You go girls!

So it’s hats off and three cheers and hip, hip hooray to the ladies who look like they may live to win another World Cup Final. Let’s cheer them on, and hope and pray that their play (and hopefully their win) will be another example of resilience and brilliance and spunk and spirit for all of us to go by.

Sex Sells Soccer (And Other Things Too)

Sydney_Leroux_Article1

Sydney Leroux is a member of the US Women’s National Soccer Team. She’s a star athlete, she’s a standout competitor, and she has a compelling story. She’s a Phenom and she’s also a fox.

Sydney is a soccer forward who is aggressive, physical, unafraid, and hungry. She always wanted to play with the best, so much so that it became a consuming ambition. It was sometimes the only thing that she knew about herself. The public — and marketers — have embraced her as she appears to embrace herself: heavily tatted, bold, fun-loving, beautiful and free.

Since we’re on the eve of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, ESPN is doing their part to pump the event. A documentary about Sydney recently aired on ESPN’s Sports Center and as I watched in wonder I was captivated. “Syd the Kid” has a hard luck, rags-to-riches, rise to soccer fame kind of story that pulls you in and also freaks you out. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s not hard on the eyes either. Sydney’s story is told in full elsewhere, but for now I’ll share this:

Sydney was born in Canada but she has an American father. She is bi-racial, a mix produced by her mother, Sandi, a former softball player on the Canadian national team, and her father, Ray Chadwick, a baseball player who’d briefly pitched in the big leagues, yet left her and then disappeared. Her father (and mother) gave her fast-twitch muscles, the dimples that punctuate her smile, creamy, pale-brown skin, and, from her father, American citizenship.

In order to fulfill her dream of playing for the US National Soccer Team, Sydney would have to move to the US as a young, 14 year-old teenager. The first attempt to live in the US ended dismally. The second time she tried living in the US she went to Scottsdale, Arizona, where Les Armstrong, a well-respected coach, and his club team, Sereno Soccer Club, were waiting. She got on a plane, flew away, and left her single mother behind.

Leroux hated it. She hated school, the “whiteness” of Scottsdale, and the feeling of being alone. “I didn’t like who I was,” she told reporters. “I didn’t like my hair. I didn’t like the color of my skin. I didn’t like that I was different.” She moved from host family to host family, house to house. She packed her bags more than once. “I don’t know if anyone could understand what it was like to be 14, 15 and have no one,” she says. “I wanted to quit, I wanted to give up so many times. I just wanted to come home.”

And then, after all of the pain, there was gain. https://godandsports.net/2013/10/09/no-pain-no-gain/

Sydney made the 2012 US Olympic team, was the youngest member of that team and yet she scored a goal in the Olympic quarterfinals against New Zealand. Her fresh, favorable face appeared in newspapers around the world, the picture of joy. She became the team’s symbol of freedom and individuality. And she won a gold medal. Not too shabby.

United States's forward Sydney Leroux celebrates after scoring the second goal during the London 2012 Olympic Games women's football match between the USA and New Zealand at St James' Park in Newcastle, north-east England on August 3, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ANDREW YATESANDREW YATES/AFP/GettyImages
United States’s forward Sydney Leroux celebrates after scoring the second goal during the London 2012 Olympic Games women’s football match between the USA and New Zealand at St James’ Park in Newcastle, north-east England on August 3, 2012.
But after watching the documentary and being mesmerized by her mass and magnetism, I found out that she posed for ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body Issue” in 2013. Was I disappointed? Or surprised? Probably both. She is such a pure heart who has such a powerful testimony, my sheltered, shielded and in some respects shaded view of sports was nearly shattered. I see the world of sports from a God perspective, not a “bod” perspective. It’s about God and sports, right?

So we all know that “sex sells.” Fine. Or not. But soccer? Female athletes have long since posed for photo shoots because they are attractive. NASCAR race car driver Danica Patrick and Tennis star Serena Williams and countless other ladies have gone bare and borne it all to promote themselves and their sport. Because they have a wide, pretty smile and long, wavy hair and a cute, curvy physique does it qualify then for the final round of approval of men and women? Apparently so.

So is there anything WRONG with being sexy and sporty? For many yes. But for many others, I guess not.

Read more about Sydney at http://grantland.com/features/sydney-leroux-womens-world-cup-2015/