Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Football Parable

Once there was a boy named Andrew who played football for his high school football team. He played wide receiver, and was quite talented at it. He had good hands and was very quick. No one on his team, or on most of the others, could defend against him effectively. But he was cocky and proud. This caused him many problems, like when he would try to make an easy catch look more difficult than it should.

And that's what happened one day in practice. His coach had just worked the players through a new play that had big potential, but when Andrew got open and tried to make a one-handed catch, of course he dropped it right on the ground.

But instead of scolding Andrew , the coach looked at the quarterback, and asked him why the play didn't work. "You saw it- Andrew tried to catch it with one hand and look good and he dropped it!" The annoyance in his voice was evident. For all his good catches, Andrew had bungled quite a few easy ones. But this time the coach looked the quarterback in the eye and said, before all the other boys, "Now I want you to listen. You, as the quarterback, own this offense. And if a play doesn't work, you are responsible. There will be no blaming anyone. Do you understand me?"

The boy looked sheepish, and said "Yes, sir". He felt about two feet tall, knowing that all his teammates in the huddle were staring at him. Andrew, however, though this was great. "Ha!" he said with a loud guffaw. He dug his elbow into the quarterback's ribs and said "That's right, you're responsible!" The quarterback looked like he wanted to be anywhere else. But he kept quiet.

So coach announced to the boys the next play they would practice. It involved both Andrew and the quarterback running to their right before the throw. They had used this multiple times, in practice and in games, and it was a favorite because Andrew was always able to get free and score. The coach read the assignments, then sent the boys out to their positions, keeping the quarterback just briefly for a private word.

And when the snap came, and Andrew broke out quickly, giving his favorite fake move, he found himself open by five yards or more, right there in the endzone. He turned to wait for the ball, thinking about how he would rub it in to the poor boy assigned to cover him. But with his arm up ready to throw, suddenly the quarterback pulled the ball down and started running, and was tackled after about two yards.

Andrew was livid. "What are you doing?" he screamed. "Couldn't you see me standing there, wide open?" But his quarterback said nothing. He looked to the coach for help. Coach just nodded. "Good," he said. "Let's huddle up again."

But Andrew wasn't satisfied. "What do you mean 'Good'? He only got two yards, and I was standing wide open the end zone! Didn't you say that he was responsible for this offense? How can you let him go with that?"

The coach just smiled. "I told him to do that. You see, he is responsible to run this offense. But he is responsible to me, and he is responsible to do the job that I have assigned him- to get yards. If he has to answer to me before all his teammates for your mistakes, do you think he's ever going to throw you the ball again?"

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