Sledging describes the action taken by players to gain an advantage over another player. This is done with abusive words and insults barked at the opposition to intimidate them and throw them off their game.
But isn't sledging actually a form of harassment? What is the difference between verbal abuse in sport and verbal abuse in our schools, workplace and streets? While there is an advantage to verbal intimidation on the field, it is clear that sledging goes against the spirit of the game and therefore there are actions taken against those who undergo sledging.
Australian cricketer Michael Clarke was fined twenty percent of his match earnings (approx. $3,000) for an on-field sledge towards an English cricket player just recently (25 November). This action was taken by the International Cricket Council to send an important message to both players and the audience that this type of behaviour is not, and will not, be tolerated in their game.
It has occurred in other sports such as the AFL as well, where players were fined and suspended for a match as a result of sledging.
However, whilst these measures are in place to discourage sledging, it is still a very common practice. Sledging is not a part of the concept of sportsmanship and it sends the wrong message to the younger generations. Athletes should be managing their emotions in even the most heated situations, because they are in the public eye and greatly influence children. Athletes should act as responsible and considerate role models.
The tongue is a common feature throughout the Bible, especially when words are used carelessly. For example, Proverbs 22 verse 10 reads: "Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended." Words stir up anger and cause trouble. It is a very good reminder that what we have to say can have a very big impact on the people around us.
And while it may be temporarily beneficial to us, they can cause more harm than good in the long-term. No wonder the wise man also says (Proverbs 12 verse 18): "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
Ephesians 4 verse 29 is a good verse to live by, saying: "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
Annemarie de Villiers is studying sports science and has a dream to be a sports scientist for a professional club. Born in South Africa, raised in New Zealand and tertiary professionally qualified in Melbourne Australia.
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