The Seven Deadly Sins were originally refined by 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus. These sins are most famously known in Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy,” which follows Dante as he is lead through Hell, Purgatory, and finally Heaven by the poet Virgil. They are, in order:
By now you are wondering why I am posting on such a gloomy topic as the Seven Deadly Sins. The reason is that each of them can be applied to lacrosse in very specific ways. If a player avoids these vices in practice and games they will be well prepared for life outside of lacrosse. Here is how each sin prevents a player from reaching his potential:
- Lust – “Excessive thoughts and desires” can muddle the mind. Every player desires to become the next All American, the next State Champion but do not let these thoughts define every fiber of your being. Strive for balance as you work towards your goals but do not let them consume you to the exclusion of all the other parts of your life.
- Envy – “The desire to deprive a man of theirs” is a common feeling. How many of us, especially after the holidays, look at a teammates brand new Brine gloves and want them for our own? Remember, no matter how expensive a pair of gloves are they do the exact same thing as bargain gloves. If you are envious of someone be envious of their skills on the field and work to develop your own because no one can deprive you of the skills you have developed.
- Greed – “A sin of excess” that corrupts any person. There is a saying “what does a person in power want? More power.” This is a difficult thing to apply to sports where every day you work to increase your game. The difference lies in how you go about improving yourself. Are you practicing solely to embarrass another player with your slick dodge or do you have an honest goal to help your team? Approach your training with the goal of helping your teammates not to solely enrich yourself.
- Sloth – “The failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts” is the crime. Are you working hard or hardly working? Sloth, by definition, is inaction. The conscious desire to not do what you are capable of doing. Remember your teammates and your coach count on you even during the offseason. 10-15 minutes a day, at minimum, practicing with your stick will keep your from committing the sin of laziness.
- Wrath – “Uncontrolled feelings of hatred or anger” are extremely dangerous to proper thought. In fact psychologists have found that “persons with a predisposition to anger and aggression have been found to have decreased activity in [the prefrontal cortex]” (psychiatryonline.org). Anger can actually prevent you from thinking clearly. Unfortunately there are plenty of opportunities for anger in games. Practice channeling your anger into positive actions on the field. Instead of “I’m going to slash that guy next time” try “I’m going to burn him with my best dodge.”
- Pride – “Excessive love of self” may just be the cause of all the other vices. We all know the verse “pride goeth before destruction,” and it is true that excessive hubris and the belief that you cannot be touched is a familiar story in professional sports. Humility is a highly underrated virtue and there are few things more unnerving than a player who never says a word about how good he is but owns everyone of the field in every game.
- Gluttony – “Over-consumption of anything to the point of waste” is the bane of a serious athlete. The night before your next game go ahead and pig out. I’m serious eat a whole pizza, drink a lot of soda, and scarf down a few slices of cheesecake. What you don’t want to do that? I thought as much. What you eat affects how you feel and how you play. Practice moderation and you will find yourself light on your feet.
If you’ve never read Dante’s “Inferno” I highly recommend it. It will give you a good appreciation for how seriously the Seven Deadly Sins were taken in the 14th century.
To all the youth players reading this do not be alarmed or scared. Nobody is perfect and I’ve committed each of the Seven in my short twenty two years. What is important is that you recognize if you screw up and change your behavior because I guarantee that your coach will recognize any time you stray too far into the Seven Deadly Sins of Lacrosse – and bench you.