Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

Sporting brain snaps

Monday, January 20, 2020

When you read this I will be winging my way to Melbourne for part of a holiday. Why Melbourne? Well we don’t have the Australian Open Tennis in Armidale.  We don’t have the rich celebrity temper tantrum, racket smashers from around the world in Armidale. We just have the normal temper tantrum racket smashers and club throwers of our local region. I think it will be interesting to see how the great ones of the sporting world do it. I am not planning to take any tips from them, however I might just be embarrassed and perversely entertained by them.

I do admit to wondering why wealthy, jet setting people who do what most of us only dream of doing can act in such a way. They’ve got the time to stay fit and they are paid to do so. They have the time to shop and the power to buy. They have time between events to prepare themselves mentally and to conquer their stresses and they have personal coaches to help them. It doesn’t sound like the kind of life people would normally have tantrums about.

I don’t know what you’re feeling as I write this but I just want to smash a racquet, the kind I can’t afford. Wisdom suggests I don’t because I haven’t got a bag of others that I can draw from. Few in number are those who have sponsored moments of anger.

One has to wonder what is going on in the professional tennis players mind as they smash racquets that most of us would happily use. I would love to see a player like Djokovic get so angry about his shot that he would walk over to the crowd and give his racquet to one of the spectators. “Here you can have this piece of useless junk. I am going to get another one.” I’d love to see that and strangely the spectators probably wouldn’t even mind having the racquet he smashed. Quite a piece of memorabilia to hang over the sports bar at home.

Anger is a dangerous emotion. A commentator said of one smashed racquet incident that anger brings out the player’s best shots. I had always thought it was skill not anger. Anger is an emotion to be ever so careful with. There are times when anger is thoroughly appropriate. Jesus Christ vented his anger when he confronted those who take advantage of the weak. He expressed the anger of God at those who cause little ones to stumble with the promise of more than smashed racquet consequences. His anger burned against the religious charlatan. But in his anger he did not sin. Anger can be a right response to injustice and in fact it can be an act of love when exhibited appropriately. God is very good with anger but sadly we are not. It is a tragedy that Australia Day 2020 will continue to hide the truth of an increasingly angry culture that has abandoned love. 

I have never considered the smash racquet tantrums of professional tennis an act of love. More a self-indulged lack of control by the over indulged.

Our culture is becoming an angry culture that resembles too much of professional tennis tantrums, however in our culture the damage can be worse than a couple of racquets. Domestic violence takes life. Road rage assaults common sense. Verbal assaults crush spirits. Vented profanities create fear. Physical violence leaves people broken. Protests will tolerate no alternatives. And none of these examples have good outcomes. Some displays of anger are not embarrassingly entertaining, they are downright dangerous and condemnable. Perhaps that suggests that we all need to consider our responses to life’s stressful moments with a little less of self as we prioritise the needs of others.

Life requires a person to be skilled in wisdom not anger. Wisdom is the skill required to play the best life shots in the most stressful circumstances. Wisdom skills a person in how to love those who sin against us and the Bible offers this advice – the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and there is no better life coach in this than Jesus Christ.

Just in case you ever see me throw a golf club, I want you to know that I am a work in progress.

Rick Lewers