I am a Seven. If you are familiar with the Enneagram, you’ll know that I tend to be bubbly, carefree, and lively.
To be more specific, I am a Seven with a six wing, which means I serve up my spontaneity with a side of anxiety. In short, I sidestep pain, negativity, and unpleasant experiences at all costs.
And nothing dials up my anxiety more than comments from the peanut gallery during the football game.
If you’ve been at this gig for long, you know that there are certain people you can’t sit by. Or walk near. Or be in the same stadium with.
So, when you can’t dodge those tacky side comments, it’s a good idea to keep a few responses in your back pocket to pull out to helpfully remind those bleacher coaches to be kind or be quiet (click that link if you need a tee that says it on the back).
It’s the first game of the season, and your game day gear is so new it has gentle wrinkles from the FNW shipping box. The humid air is fresh with fried food and new cheers. An enthusiastic crowd awaits the team banner run-through and you take a deep breath.
You’ve waited all summer for this.
Let me introduce you to the Pre-Game Prophet. They chronically quit before they start. They think the other team is “too big,” “too prepared,” or the losing streak is just “too long.”
Look at this one in the face and say with a grin, “Hey, any team can beat any team on any day!”
Second Quarter Skeptic
You’re one quarter down and a touchdown behind. Or, even though you aren’t behind, you can tell this game is going to be a struggle. But you know Coach has prepared the boys for a fight.
Enter the Second Quarter Skeptic. We’ll call him Uncle Larry, cause you’ve never seen him before and he’s probably from another… planet. And Uncle Larry says, “Welp, this game is over.”
Take a deep breath, and smile and say, “There’s a lot of game left and these boys came to play.”
It’s time to stretch your legs, so you head to the concession stand for an over-priced hot dog and the spectators in line behind you begin discussing Coach’s game plan.
These Haters have taken all the plays hostage in their minds and now the only way to win is to do the exact opposite of everything Coach says. Obviously, they don’t know who you are.
You turn to them, smile, and say, “Hello! I’m Mrs. Coach. I’ve heard so much about your son. We are so glad he’s on the team.”
Third Quarter Questioners
You return to your seat and the second half begins. You are still optimistic because you know that Coach is going to inspire his players to compete for all four quarters (whether you are winning or losing).
That’s when a parent comes to sit right next to you.
They are chatty at first, and then they begin asking all the questions.
“Why do you think Coach ran that play? Why don’t we run the ball? Do you think you can ask him about putting my son in?”
You shrug your shoulders and smile. Stand. Raise your cowbell really high and cheer as loud as you can. Maybe you can’t stop the questions, but you can cheer loud enough to drown them out.
Also, this might be a good time to go to the sideline and just follow the team.
The game was long and you are emotionally drained. While you are packing up all your stuff, someone walks by and says, “I hope the rest of the season is better than this.”
It doesn’t really matter if you won or lost, because the team’s effort will never be good enough for this one.
Here you’ll have to dig deep and channel your emotions. Smile and say, “I am incredibly proud of this team (or these coaches). They’ve worked so hard and I can’t wait to watch them again next week.” And walk away.
Here’s the thing. When you are in a position where you are subject to the opinions of others, you will have to set boundaries.
Sometimes that means you are picky about where you sit. Sometimes that means you are quiet when you want to scream.
And always, you’ll have to decide in advance how to respond. Colossians 4:6 tell us, “Let your speech be always with grace.” So, smile and show grace.