The recent on field brawl between college football players from the University of South Carolina and Clemson is a clear signal that high school and college athletes need a little more training in the area of good sportsmanship. The video of this low moment in sport’s history is almost unbelievable. I found myself marveling at the lack of concern the players from both teams gave to the fact that all of their actions were being caught on film. Once the adrenaline was flowing, it seems these supposedly well-trained and disciplined athletes could do little to control their need to punch, kick, and swing helmets at their counterparts.
Violence is found just about everywhere in the world. I have never run across a documentary featuring a country where human beings fighting with other human beings is a non-issue. People get mad, people feel threatened, and people fight because of it. That is not what amazes me. But what does leave me intrigued is how often people ignore the possible consequences of their leap into the world of fisticuffs and amateur wrestling. People who bypass their mental check valves concerning the use of violence often find themselves headed for a jailhouse or courtroom, actions put in place by the state to remind its citizens that anarchy is not currently the government’s method of operation.
Jesus was clear in his message of how people should respond to others tempting us into confrontations. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV). Perhaps our Father has given us “assault and battery” laws as an extra incentive to follow this creed.
High school and college students face suspensions and expulsions whenever they resort to violence on school property or at any school related function. Most schools will not let students make up school work assigned during the time a student is suspended. Semester expulsions result in late graduations and a severe blemish on a student’s record. And, if the violent act is criminally prosecuted, juvenile detention time, adult jail time, fines, probations, and community service can all be a part of the punishment. An awful lot to think about before one takes the route of violence.
If someone makes you angry, think about the ensuing mayhem if you return the favor. Ask yourself if you are prepared to spend weeks, months, and possibly years paying for the possible physical confrontation your adrenaline is pushing you toward.
If someone physically attacks you, remember that if you respond in kind, when the dust settles, there may be no way for the authorities to decide who started the melee, leaving you just as guilty as the aggressor.
Whether it be on the athletic field or in the school hallway, students must learn to resolve their differences without morphing into little Mike Tysons of John Cenas. Peaceful solutions to conflicts are available to those who remember society does not revolve around our personal anger and justification for offensive fists.