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July 2014 News

A lesson to learn from the glorious injustice of sport

  • Written by  Comment: Damien Johnson
England’s Frank Lampard laments his disallowed goal against German in the 2010 World Cup.

With the FIFA World Cup dominating headlines, it’s a good time to reflect back on one of, if not the, greatest moments from the last time the world united over football.

The moment I refer to is the glorious tragedy when England mid-fielder Frank Lampard scored that magnificent goal against Germany.

That’s right, the one where he launched a lethal strike from outside the penalty box which rocketed off the cross bar and bounced a good two feet behind the goal line.

However, what makes this a great moment in sport for me is the fact that in front of countless millions of viewers worldwide and a stadium full of people, all who knew England had scored, the referee missed it.

He missed it. At the biggest sporting event in the world, the officials botched it terribly - and I think it was wonderful.

Now before you start thinking I’m a sports masochist, let me explain.

I believe that critical adjudicating errors are part of the majesty of sport because they are a revelation of what it means to be human.

They are a genuine reflection of the harshness of life. They are, in fact, such a beautiful reflection of the injustices and misfortunes that we each face on a day to day level that I actually form an emotional connection with these moments.

I have never yelled at my TV as much as I did during that England vs Germany match, and this is but one of many torturous moments across multiple codes where I have been brought to tears by the misjudgment and flawed reasoning of an official.

And I love it.

Oh sure, the ecstasy of having your team come from behind in the dying seconds to snatch victory is a glorious high. Yes, the wonder of watching an elite athlete perform an individual feat of near supernatural greatness can leave you feeling inspired.

But these emotions are meaningless without the harsh bitterness that is delivered through witnessing injustice.

These moments, where I am abandoned to feel the darkest of emotions in all their unpleasant mockery, become beautiful tragedies in my heart.

Why? Because they are experiences that unite me with other human beings.

It is in the sharing of such hardship that we bond as fellow men and women, and the fabric of our community is strengthened.

This may be stretching it slightly, but I don’t think it is that extreme to say our rallying together through sport’s unfair cruelties actually prepare us for the more serious tragedies we face as a community.

We live in a town that is under attack from spiritual and physical injustices every day.

The question is, will we follow the example of sport, and simply try to regulate these injustices out of sight?

Or will we use them as cause to unite, to connect deeper with each other and to rally together as a Church intent in bringing true hope and justice within our community?

Damien Johnson is the station manager at Voice FM.

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