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"Lord, I don't ask that I should win, but please, please don't let me finish behind Akabusi."

Innocent Egbunike's prayer at the 1988 Olympics

Dissent

Live in harmony with one another; live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:16,18

Last week we considered how we can love, or at least respect, officials. One aspect of that respect concerns dissent.

Dissent is a big problem in some sports. When an incident occurs in a game there is a moment when an appeal can be made to the official. "Our ball", "She was holding my shirt". This opportunity lasts for a second or two.

Dissent takes place after the official has made the decision. It is a negative response to the decision "are you blind ref?", "you can not be serious". This is different from asking for a reason for the decision or even accepting the decision but pointing out to the official in a respectful and calm tone that something has been missed.

For the Christian player, an appeal is perfectly acceptable but that dissent has "crossed the line". Society now accepts dissent as part and parcel of life and the game but this really is an area in which the Christian sportsperson can be different.

When a decision goes against you when you feel you haven't done anything, how do you react? Obviously your judgment will be a bit biased and you have to bear that in mind at the time and afterwards when you are reflecting on it. If you show no reaction it might seem to the referee that you are accepting that you have committed a foul, deserving a penalty when really you feel you didn't. To argue about it is equally pointless for the referee will never change his mind. A respectful protest is perhaps the best response.

While this thought has been written from the player's perspective, the principle applies equally to everyone whatever their role in the world of sport. It is just as important for the sports psychologist or the club secretary to have an ambition to live in harmony and at peace as the player.

Stuart Weir



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