Finals football: How sporting achievements can be metaphors for life

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Champions of two major football codes seek their sport’s ultimate premiership prizes this weekend but in attaining glory, they should remember the efforts of so many others who have assisted in their climb to the top.

Competition against hundreds or possibly even thousands of players who won’t grace the turf of either Sydney’s Olympic Stadium or the Melbourne Cricket Ground has provided either the necessary opposition or the support for assisting the best in Rugby League and Australian Rules to develop their skills to the highest level.

Appreciating those contributors, both in the earlier junior levels of competition right up to the opponents that the winning teams have faced in their battles to attain the top of their ladders on this first weekend of October, should also revive a chance to consider the contributions of the Olympians who failed to achieve medals in Rio de Janeiro.

Concentrating on honouring the very best in sport has meant that many Australians prompted by media commentaries have joined with some sporting administrators to criticise what were claimed to be “disappointing” results at the Games.

While winning additional gold medals would have delighted everyone, the fact that so many of our athletes were there and competed so well against the strongest competitors in world sport is something to be celebrated more than to be debated.

It’s always worth contemplating what may be done to try to further improve our standings in future Olympic or other competitions, but being there among the best is something that’s deserving of special respect.

All competitors can lay claim to high praise – and, as with the earlier mention of football, those who competed against them to assist their development towards Olympic standard also played important roles.

In many ways, sporting achievements such as the football finals can be metaphors for life.

Putting aside modern opportunities to record and replay games on screen, the actual contests move like our human lives because on the field, there’s no chance to stop and revisit any passages of play.

Sometimes moves will deliver results for a particular team, with good breaks developing and fast runs being made leading to the scoring of points; like the better times in our lives.

On other occasions, trying to make what commentators often describe as “forward progress” will seem almost impossible; as it can be when we are negotiating some tough times.

Some players may be injured in action; similar to us being felled for a time, perhaps through taking a fall or developing an illness.

Rules are important to sporting competitions as much as to other aspects of life and breaking them on the field sees the imposition of penalties; just as being guilty of traffic offences or other crimes will force us to pay penalties or be “sent off” by perhaps being disqualified from driving or jailed.

Ultimately the march of time dictates that sounds from a whistle or some other source signals the end of a game; just as our human lives also will reach their conclusion but before that time and in ways akin to what are often may be last minute attempts to scramble for points in football matches, we may be busy trying to pack as much as possible into our rapidly passing days.

The end of a match usually is followed by what can be regarded as a post mortem when a coach reviews and outlines thoughts on both the good and bad aspects of on-field performances; which mirrors part of the judgement process that Christians acknowledge in their belief that God will assess their earthly lives.

Junior levels of sporting contests encourage participants not just to score points and to win but rather to demonstrate exemplary behaviour which may earn “best and fairest awards”. That ideal is sometimes swept aside as players age and seek representation at the highest levels.

Again, there’s a link to our lives because many people will strive to do the right thing in their early years before they possibly facing increased levels of temptation later, when their behaviour may fail to meet the test of the Commandments. Consider these points while enjoying the excitement of the Grand Finals.

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