In AFL (Australian Rules Football), the team song at the end of the game (when you’ve won), is a time honoured tradition.
For me, and I am sure I am not alone, nothing beats belting out the team’s tune (out of tune usually).
When a new team member wins their first game for their club, tradition also dictates they stand in the middle. You shower the first-time-win player or players with water. Many teams shower them also with any other type of liquid they can get their hands on, which could consist of Gatorade, for the supreme athletes, or beer, the lower the grade you play in!
Footage emerged earlier this year at the AFL level within the Melbourne Demons changerooms of rookie small forward Kade Chandler covered in milk during the Demons team song, with the 21-year-old struggling to get the liquid out of his hair and face.
Christian Petracca, arguably one of the best players running around the AFL at the moment, responded by grabbing a water bottle and helping the youngster clean up.
Why did he take it upon himself to do that?
The exchange between Mark Robinson (AFL journalist) and Petracca regarding this incident makes interesting viewing (from 12:25min).
“Here is a young man really taking a leadership role. Why did you take it upon yourself to do that?”
Petracca’s response speaks volumes:
“Well, having milk in your hair is not a great thing...Pouring water or Gatorade is ok, but milk is too far…We addressed this as a group later…It’s probably not good enough…It’s usually left to our property steward to clean this up.”
Further to this, he said something very poignant: “As a culture, we are constantly improving. These little things might not seem like a lot but, it’s those little 1%ers that add up.”
Melbourne’s last premiership in the VFL/AFL was in 1964. A long wait for their supporters and they currently are one of the teams favoured to win this year.
How would a champion team respond?
Two ex-Hawthorn AFL players (who both had won 4 premierships from 2008-2015) also commented on the effect of looking after the little things in the pursuit of greatness.
Jarryd Roughead discussed how he had done something familiar to this incident after a game in 2009. After he had done this, the team NEVER did this again. He was reprimanded by the coach with one of the sternest looks you would ever see (I wish I could perfect THAT look as a teacher!).
Host of AFL 360, Gerard Whateley questioned another ex-Hawthorn champion player, Jordan Lewis, (who also played for Melbourne towards the end of his career), “These little things on your progress matters?”
“Oh, I think so. I think there is a lot of little things that pop up within a pre-season, within a season, within an off season and sides who aren’t alert to them let them go. They fester in the background and they add to other things that fall apart. So, if we were watching that…And we had been a part of an era where that wasn’t acceptable…I look at every single song after a game and watch for things like that. Is there Powerade being thrown in a person’s eyes? That stuff stings a person’s eyes. It might not mean much to anyone but that little act there, (as they replay the footage I detailed above) and the way that they addressed it after the game, those little things matter when you want to be humble, you want to be successful and you want to care for each other. It’s great footage.”
The little things matter.
When you want to be humble.
When you want to be successful.
When you want to care for each other.
The little things mattered to Jesus
A little boy gave Jesus 2 loaves and 5 small fish to feed 5000 people.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.”
Jesus stopped to heal one woman. He stopped to heal one blind person.
Jesus spoke about having a little bit of faith like a mustard seed.
His disciples numbered 12. Quite a small group to change the world?
It’s Jesus who has taught us the incredible importance of a glass of cold water; that even a cup of cold water given in his name to the least of the people that we encounter can be something that God values so much that he considers it service to himself.
The little things like the interruptions of my wife or kids during the footy; the hassles of the student or workmate who just wants to chat and chat and chat; the unexpected things like the constant pop up on my computer from the IT department to update this blasted computer; the hassles when you seem to get every red light on the way to something you are late for.
Perhaps these are allowed by God to bring us closer to being more like Jesus ourselves?
I want to endeavour to never despise the little things.
Time after footy training with my ol’ Masters footy mates.
Spending extra time with people.
Stopping at a different brewery every week on the way home from your son’s footy to spend time with him. (That’s my reason Belinda!)
Thank you cards or emails.
Cutting the grass.
Doing the jobs on “the list”.
Maybe it could be just treating that stranger or shop assistant with a little respect.
Little things do matter because they matter to God.
When we do the little things, we are being Jesus to those around us, the culture changes and we are much closer to the kingdom of God than we have ever realised.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html