I never thought I’d have a reason to write a post titled “No Biting” but I was wrong. Luis Suarez of Uruguay was recently suspended for nine matches and four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in their World Cup match. That is quite the hefty suspension, but considering Suarez was suspended twice before for biting an opponent I’m not surprised at the length of this suspension. You know, that bears repeating. This individual has bitten opposing players more than once before! Wow.
What I find worse than the bite is the foolish defense his coach gave after the game. “Óscar Tabárez, the Uruguayan coach, also said he had not seen the incident (nor any video or photographs of it afterward), but he leapt to Suárez’s defense anyway, vehemently attacking journalists for, in his opinion, unfairly targeting Suárez. Tabárez added: ‘This is a football World Cup, not about morality, cheap morality‘ (www.nytimes.com).” That last line is telling. This coach, in defending his star player, wants us all to believe that the ends justify the means at the World Cup. This blithe comments does a lot of damage because it implies that winning a game or being a remarkably good player is more important than the manner in which the game is won.
Lacrosse has a long history of honoring the game, but those of us in lacrosse do not have a monopoly on honor in sports. Every team and individual sport I’ve participated in reinforced the ideals of:
- Self Control
- Indomitable Spirit
Those are the words I recited before and after every youth kickboxing class at Tiger Academy, and every other sport I played growing up helped instill those words to my core. Biting his opponent means Suarez had zero self-control, no courtesy, very little compassion, and a complete lack of integrity.
As someone who coaches and interacts with youth players on a regular basis I cannot tell you how much damage the win at all costs mentality does to young players. If we as the adults do not strongly condemn the public actions of players like Suarez and then sit the kids down to explain that poor behavior and actions leads to severe consequences, we will see more players acting poorly on the grandest stages.
I remember a practice from my high school days where a few of my teammates got detention for not tucking their shirts into their pants during the school day as per the dress code. After detention these players came to the field, got dressed, and joined us late. Our coach put us through our paces as usual, and then the last fifteen minutes of practice were spent running Sprints with Wisdom.
My teammates and I sprinted the full length of the field down and back. We were provided a short rest after each sprint during which our coach espoused the hidden meaning behind the dress code:
“You are men! You are not supposed to care what you look like! If you are supposed to wear a belt you wear a belt! If you are supposed to tuck in your shirt then you tuck in your shirt!”
“You do not give a teacher attitude when you get called out for ignoring the rule!”
“You don’t get detention for dressing like a fool when you have a job. You get fired!”
“You are wasting practice time because you cannot tuck in your shirts! You are men, you do not care what you look like. Tuck in your shirt, wear a belt, and un-pop the collar!”
Those are Sprints with Wisdom. The violation was small. Not tucking in your shirt is not on the same level as biting someone, but tucking in your shirt demonstrates Modesty and Self-Control. When young players are given the opportunity to screw up on little things the adults around them are responsible for correcting them until the lesson sticks. That way players learn to demonstrate attitudes and attributes that are valued in society before they start biting people because they got bumped into on the lacrosse field.
Featured Image Credit – http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28023882