These thoughts are to help and inspire people like you and me to reach higher and strive for greater things, to stand for a cause more noble than self serving, seeing the good in others and seeking it for their sake. I unashamedly weave my faith, biblical insight and life experiences into a sporting context to illustrate my personal journey to this point - I hope in a small way, I can help you on your journey to being all you were intended to be....

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Friday, 10 February 2012

11 things playing the advantage gives you

Lets face it, being a referee can't be easy. Everyone has an opinion about every decision you make or about the ones they think you miss. Learning the law is one thing, applying and interpreting it is another level.

One area that allows a referee some discretion is - the law of "advantage". Summing it up, a referee can allow play to continue after an offence has occurred, if, in his opinion, he thinks you would be disadvantaged by stopping the game. In rugby, there is no time limit, the referee is the sole judge of when any advantage has expired or, if in his view, no advantage is gained, he can stop the game and reset by awarding a penalty.

As a player, the advantage rule is great. At the very least, you know that the referee will stop the game if you can't make the most of the scope you've been given and award a penalty. At the other end of the scale, you're free to carry on unimpeded to perhaps try something you may not have taken a risk on, without the advantage.

I started to think about this in a playing context and also in a life context.

The bible has some really useful advice, when it tells us that the "man's man" Jesus Christ came to bring liberation - that is freedom from containment, freedom to find the true expression of life that was always intended for us to express. The advice is very simple and yet so often, we complicate it with stop start thinking - here it is: "it is for freedom that Christ has set us free".

Putting it simply, God has called "advantage", He wants us to carry on playing it out, without hinderance or being impeded. So many people think that God wants to keep whistle blowing - stop, starting, "you cant do this, you cant do that" - nothing could be further from the truth. He has signalled "advantage" and its game on!

Here are my 11 things that playing the advantage gives you. Read them first in the context of the game. When the referee signals advantage, he has made his intention clear; from that point, until he decides otherwise, he is looking out for you and for your benefit. Then, read them again, but this time, think about "the" highest authority looking out for your benefit...

When you know the referee has signalled advantage:
  • you can attempt something riskier or more creative
  • you can be more expansive in your play
  • you're not contained by the offence that's been committed against you
  • you are in control of the next phase of play, even if the current one breaks down
  • you don't have to resort to retaliation - that's been covered by a higher authority
  • someone has seen you were mistreated but can see the potential for you to keep going
  • you can keep going so long as the route is clear to do so or at least until this phase stops
  • you're not wasting your time or energy complaining about what has happened to you
  • you're making progress under direct authority that is on your side
  • where there's space to play, you can just keep going
  • the opportunity to complete what you were attempting is still on
Go on read them again. The next match you watch when the referee signals or shouts "advantage", remind yourself that if we chose to listen, God is calling "advantage" over our lives. Our challenge is to hear the call and play on to fully realise the opportunity he is signalling.