A young woman moved from a major city into a rural small town. She had been one of the top players at her AAA school. She tries out for the team but only makes JV even though she is significantly better than any of the varsity players. When questioned, the coach tells her moving her up would pose a problem to the chemistry of his team. His players have been together since grade school and it would be too difficult to move someone down to JV.
A young man has three players on his team all dreaming of college scholarships. He has the talent, height and is already being scouted by D1 programs. His teammates are openly jealous. Whenever this young man is open these three somehow never manage to get him the ball.
Another young man is not naturally talented. He is only 5’5 but he loves the game of basketball and has been dreaming of playing high school varsity since he was four years old. He works out every day, is the first one to practice and the last to leave. He always gives 110%, encourages and is the hardest worker on the team with the best attitude. His taller teammates don’t try. They come to practice late, they meander on the court and never go for a loose ball. They have no passion and often criticize each other. But they play even when their team is getting blown out while the shorter young player sits the bench.
“That’s not fair” we say. The best player should make the team, teammates should not be jealous, the hardest worker should get a fair opportunity. But the sad reality is these stories are true.
Each one of us has a story of unfairness to tell. The key is how we overcome when life and others treat us unfairly.
Nine ways to Overcome when life and Sports aren’t Fair
1. Find a mentor.
We at NBC Camps can’t stress enough this important principle. Too many coaches, parents and athletes cry “unfair” and yet the same thing happens again and again because they didn’t seek objective counsel to really see where the problem lies. Self assessment is one of the most difficult tasks of any athlete. Most people blame. Blame leads to bigger problems. Find a wise person who can accurately and unemotionally determine what is going on.
2. Live above the line.
When unfair things happen to us, live above it. Speak with dignity, do not gossip or tear down, don’t be violent, quick tempered, bitter, easily offended. Instead, keep a sense of humor, be thankful, and don’t let the pain drag you into acting beneath yourself. Remember, all people who engage in violence believe similar things; it was their right to become violent and they had no other choice. (violence=rage, slander, mocking, hostility, threats, forcing people out, etc.)
3. It’s not personal.
When life is unfair, avoid thinking this is about you. Actually, it is about the hurt and dysfunction of the person or system. “Hurting people hurt others and are easily hurt.” (John Maxwell) Don’t make it personal.
4. Choose forgiveness.
Bitterness only injures you. One of the toughest dynamics happens when parents’ unresolved bitterness gets intermingled with the child’s pain. This becomes a very volatile situation. Work together to forgive and more importantly to find ways to ask others for forgiveness. Nothing helps heal anger and resentment towards others like noticing our own shortcomings and mistakes.
5. Carefully consider your options.
What can you change? What can you take responsibility for? If the external circumstances were different, would there be the change you want? For example, some athletes move teams to play for a different coach only to find themselves in a similar or even worse situation.
6. List all the options open to you.
Never settle for unfair treatment. Action is almost always required. With your mentor, come up with positive, win-win situations for you.
If a confrontation is necessary, ALWAYS meet face-to-face and ALWAYS bring to the confrontation someone who is mature and under control. NEVER voice conflict via email or at inappropriate times (i.e. during or immediately following a game). This is one of the very worst things you can do.
8. Keep a ‘thankful’ journal.
The opposite of bitterness is gratitude. Bitter people are not creative, they are not physically healthy, and they ruin other relationships around them because bitterness cannot be contained toward one person. Bitterness spreads. Gratitude on the other hand allows us to have greater creativity and to problem solve. It opens doors and maintains dignity. Keep the journal by your bed and write down what you are thankful for each day. Memorize great quotes and verses like Psalm 103.
9. Make the difference as obvious as possible.
One of the reasons the civil rights movement in Alabama became so successful was the world saw the unfairness on their television sets and made an outcry. If you watch the footage now, the evil is clear, there Is no question what is right and what is wrong. Make your case so obvious people will notice. People love justice. The courage of the civil rights workers to face the unfair treatment without resorting to violence spoke louder than any speech. Their courage to voice their opinions with dignity and love changed and continues to change a nation. Remember what the great Martin Luther King said, “Hate can never drive out hate, only love can do that.”
This article was written by Jennifer Ferch. Jennifer received her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Gonzaga University. For questions or comments about this article, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org