Tag Archives: anger

Why I Don’t Play Anymore

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why-i-dont-play-anymore

Whenever I ref a men’s club game or tournament, like I did this weekend, I invariably run into a former teammate or opponent from my playing days. After the usual pleasantries are exchanged I get asked the same question: “Why aren’t you playing today Corsetti?”

The short and funny answer is: “I’m not getting paid $50 bucks to play the game, but I do get paid that to ref it.”

The more complicated answer is: “I don’t want to play anymore.”

I rarely give out that second answer because I get a lot of perplexed looks from youth, high school, college, and men’s club players. None of them understand why I wouldn’t want to get out and mix it up with some buddies on a lacrosse field. I don’t think they believe me when I explain that if I never picked up a lacrosse stick again for the rest of my life that I would still die happy.

You see, I love lacrosse, but I never really liked playing. And that is a huge distinction to make.

Since I started playing in fifth grade at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse at Murphy Candler Park until I stopped in my final club game around 2011, I had trouble enjoying lacrosse while I played it. I had a blast with my teammates, and I rejoiced when we won games, but there was a darker side that I never liked.

Since I began playing as a child I never fully enjoyed a game because I was so self-critical. Every mistake I made was magnified in my mind as being the worst mistake ever made on a lacrosse field. I had fun, sure, but I was also plagued by self-doubt and a ridiculously critical inner-voice. As I grew older and played in more competitive games that self-doubt turned into anger. Eventually the game wasn’t any fun no matter what the final score was.

I spent ten years playing lacrosse turning much of my anger towards myself, and at twenty-two years old I played a men’s club game out in north Georgia with some friends. The team played well, I played well, we won with a comfortable lead, and I was miserable driving home. I was miserable because I got stripped of the ball on a clear. I was pissed off at myself in a game that had zero meaning. So I made the decision then and there that I no longer wanted to play lacrosse.

I never liked playing lacrosse, but I loved the game then and I love it now. The only difference is I get to officiate, which allows me to cultivate a mental attitude that I am much happier with. For me, the best part about officiating is that I only have one metric that I judge myself on, which is:

  1. Did I give everything I had to the two teams playing?
    • As one high-level official I met said, “If the players are going to give 100%, I am going to give 100%.”

The second best part about officiating is that you never win and you never lose. You either did a good job or you didn’t. For some reason that tiny difference turns my competitively hot anger against myself into a cool anger. When I make a mistake that cool anger keeps me hyper focused on the game in front of me, and it drives me to make sure that I don’t commit any more mistakes for the rest of the game.

Officiating lets me be my self-critical self without being destructive. I tell people who ask me why I officiate the following:

When I ref a game I get to be the calm center of the swirling tornado around me. I step on and off the field with a calm and relaxed mindset. That makes me happy.

I’m still competing to be the best lacrosse official I can possibly be, but it took me over fifteen years to realize that while lacrosse is a competitive game, it is still just a game, and I’m not going to crucify myself mentally for not hitting my generally too-high standards.

I love lacrosse, and I like officiating. So that’s what I’m going to stick with until I can transfer my officiating mentality into my playing mentality.

Featured Image Credit – http://melaniexyz.deviantart.com/art/Hanging-up-the-Cleats-184435915

Cheers,
Gordon

The Inverse Relationship Between Age and Anger

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Angry Hulk

I remember being a pretty angry kid. I had a short fuse and if something did not go my way I would often erupt. Martial arts and lacrosse lengthened my anger fuse because I realized that I did not perform well when I was angry. I couldn’t focus on my next move because my mind was fixated on some slight from twenty seconds earlier. This didn’t mean that I lost my anger, but I did learn to channel it into a productive, rather than destructive, force.

As an official I am required to be emotionless. This is a complete impossibility but most people will forgive an official for showing some emotion during a game so long as that emotion is not anger. Coaches, players and parents are allowed to get angry but officials cannot show how pissed off they may be during a game. Once we show anger on the field we are screwed because in that moment we’ve been brought down to the same fighting level as the coach, player or parent we are addressing. At that point the battle is lost for the official. To combat this personally I’ve spent several years working on keeping a calm face in the storm of vitriol that can fly out of the mouths of angry people.

In my years involved with lacrosse as an arbiter of the rules who does not have any stake in any game that I officiate, I’ve found an interesting inverse relationship. An inverse relationship is when something decreases when something else increases or visa versa. In officiating lacrosse I’ve come to believe that parent anger is inversely proportional to player age. The younger a particular team the greater likelihood that angry parents will follow, while older players bring out the parental wrath less often.

Inverse Relationship

This is relationship is not causal. It is merely a correlation that I’ve found is correct more often than not. It has been my experience, shared across many officials that I work with, that youth games can be difficult to work because of the adult coaches and parent spectators. Take them out of the equation and most of the players have a grand time, but younger teams generally have a greater chance of some adult losing their mind during a game.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I do not have children. I cannot imagine how stressful and frustrating it is for a parent to watch their child take a big hit in a game and the officials not catch it. I can understand the anger a parent can have on the sideline when something big is missed because I get angry when I see officials miss a big illegal hit. What I do not understand is why a parent would yell vulgarities at a fifteen year old official during a 10-1 game for a missed offsides violation when that parent’s team happens to be winning.

I’ve met a lot of parents in my travels around the Southeast and the vast majority are great people who just want to enjoy the nice day. These are the parents that applaud when my crew and I kick out an angry instigator. I’m writing about the 1% of parents/coaches that get 100% of the news coverage because they act horribly.

If you are going to get angry about something get angry about missed safety violations. Then count to ten or do whatever you need to do to get a clear head and find a more rational way to get your point across. Talk to the coach after the game, write to the league administrator or official’s assignor, but don’t waste your energy on fruitless angry pursuits that will land you with a suspension, a possible court date, and a prime spot on your local news show.

For a very in-depth look at the physiological responses to getting angry check out this post: Mad = Angry + Crazy + Dumb – by Leon F. Seltzer Ph.D.

Cheers,
Gordon

 

 

 

A Lesson on Losing

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Losing blows. This is not earth-shattering news. Losing blows because it is the opposite of winning. In fact, the definition of losing is the “failure to win” (thefreedictionary.com). It means you were defeated, your team did not measure up, or you blew the last play. Suffice it to say, losing hurts. Which is why it is such a good thing.

One of the greatest coaches in sport’s history, Vince Lombardi, said “if you can accept losing, you can’t win” (brainyquote.com). I do not want players to accept losing, defeat, or failure. I expect them to learn from it, otherwise they will make the same mistakes each game and continue losing.

When I was in sixth grade, I lost. Time took away the plays and the final score, but I still have a memento from that game. I stripped off my gear next to the swinging chain-link gate at the side of the field. I was shaking with anger as I put my shoulder pads into my bag. I distinctly remember kneeling, then, with a giant yell, I slammed my fist down into the ground. Well, I did not hit the ground. I smashed my hand onto the one patch of concrete next to the chain-link gate.

Every angry feeling I had about the game disappeared in an explosion of pain radiating up my arm. I punched the concrete so hard that I compacted my ring and pinkie knuckles on my right hand. The kicker is I never told my parents. I just waited for a week as the swelling subsided and my hand stopped seizing up.

There are two main lessons to take from my angry pugilism. One, if you are going to hit something, avoid concrete or other really hard objects. Two, the only thing I remember about that game is that I lost. I do not remember how well or poorly I played defense. I forgot if I made good passes or dropped a lot of balls. The only lesson I ever learned from that game is to avoid hitting really hard objects.

So when you lose it is important to set anger and frustration aside. Take the emotion out of your loss for a few minutes and take stock of how the game went for you and your team. Try identifying any mistakes you made during the game, and work on correcting them for the next game.

Once you identify those mistakes go ahead and get angry. Vent, scream, let it out. Then get over it. Losing may blow, but it is only permanent if you fail to change before the next game.

Notice the Right Knuckles Compared to the Left Knuckles

Notice the Right Knuckles Compared to the Left Knuckles

Featured Image Credit – kennysilva.net

Cheers,
Gordon