good foul?

This caraway seed has been stuck in my denture for a while. Does it not strike you as odd that someone would say “good foul” while watching a sporting event? defines the sports usage of a foul as “a violation of the rules of a sport or game,” or “a batted ground ball that is hit… outside the foul lines” as it pertains to baseball. Nearly every other definition of foul has to do with being offensive, vile, defiled, even violent. There are also nautical definitions that further expand on the theme of being “wrong” in some way.

I have no problem with basketball players being allowed a certain number of violations. Everybody makes blunders, on and off the court. What I have been grappling with is how commonplace the use of personal fouls as a strategy seems to have become. When the game is getting close to the end, even if you’re down by an insurmountable margin, what do you do? Have a player commit a foul to stop the clock. Sometimes a game can hinge on which of multiple fouls, committed in succession, the ref blows the whistle on.

Think about it. In order to keep a team “in the game,” or even to lose by a few less points, we instruct and encourage players to knowingly violate the written and agreed-upon rules of the game – up to the limit – at which time the player exits the game, often to applause. And nobody bats an eye.

Imagine how corrupt our society would become if that (il)logic was applied to other arenas. If you don’t have enough money, shoplift up to five small items, just make sure to pay for the bigger ones. Obey most of the traffic laws, unless you’re in a hurry, then feel free to run up to five red lights a day. Do your own work in school, except you can copy up to five problems if you didn’t ahve time to do it yourself. Tell up to five lies a day, as long as you’re mostly truthful.

How can we seamlessly model integrity to the young, impressionable lives entrusted to our care? Is there ever a case where knowingly violating the law/rules is acceptable, even preferable? How do we teach kids to know when that time comes?

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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