Blow Your Internal Whistle


Week 8 of the NFL Season was a lesson in discipline, or should I say lack of? It was the third quarter, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were 10 points down to the New England Patriots. One of their defensive players hit one of the Patriot’s offensive players – AFTER he was well out of bounds! The game takes place on the field. Once a player goes out of bounds, it’s hands off. That penalty cost the Steelers 15 yards. We all know it’s dangerous to give a high scoring quarterback, like Tom Brady, any extra yardage. As it went, the Steelers did beat the Patriots, but I was reminded of the high cost of penalties.

In any football game, referees are gonna call penalties.  They seem to love to throw that yellow scarf onto the field. Statistically speaking, the team with fewer penalties is usually the team that wins. Players need to be disciplined, and that can be challenging in a physically tough, necessarily rough game.

If you’re a mom and you see your kids hitting each other, you might tend to punish them both. You don’t care who started it. But in football, the referee needs to choose. Usually, the player who punches back is the one who gets caught. It’s not technically fair, but that’s the way it works. 95% of flags thrown in an on-field fight are thrown against the player who retaliated. Be mature. Blow your internal whistle. Don’t retaliate. A “late hit” or revenge move on an opponent can cost your team another 15 yards.

Just as in football, there are penalties in everyday life. People unwittingly say things that are hurtful. Disparaging tones of voice may creep into a conversation. Don’t retaliate! The most important principle, as in football, is SHAKE IT OFF. Don’t let your mistake affect your next play. Pick your battles carefully. Your restraint will serve you well.

When you make a conscious choice about what you’ll do, instead of slipping into a knee-jerk reaction, you have control over your behavior. When or if you do decide to get into someone’s face, you can make it count. Don’t waste energy on small, petty issues. Address only those situations that truly matter. You will be more likely to win YOUR game!


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