Are You Tired?

by Oliver Carlos

I love football. As a student, took it up in PE class twice- the first time was when I was in high school, and once again when I was in college. Thus, when I became a PE teacher at Christian School International (CSI), I decided to teach it too in my classes. It’s one of the top 3 most popular sports in the world, and I believe every PE student in our country must have some knowledge of it.

This is my home turf, at the UPLB football field. (photo by Jethro Castillo)

The best thing I like about football is that it fosters the “team first before self” mentality. On the physical side, this sport develops great stamina and quick reflexes. However, there are a couple rules in football that I find weird or puzzling. If I could just go back in time and interview the inventor of football, I would like to ask him what’s the rationale behind these rules.

First is the “no balik-bayan rule.” When a player gets substituted, he cannot return to the game anymore. This is unlike in basketball wherein a substituted player can be fielded in again by the coach after taking a rest on the bench. In football, when a star player gets hurt while inside the pitch, the coach would have second thoughts of substituting him, because if he does so, he cannot send him back to the game. So injured players would just bear the pain and play on. Football coaches are never trigger-happy in fielding substitutes early in the match.

The second rule is that, a team can only field a maximum of 3 substitutes (in the professional level). I find this mind-boggling because teams are required to dress up at least 18 players to a match. If you have 11 starters and 3 substitutes, that’s just 14 players in all. What happens to the 4 unused substitutes? They would never get fielded in that game.

These 2 rules are about substitutions. So if you’re a substitute in football, life is very tough for you. Playing time would be scarce as opportunities to get in the field are limited. On the other hand, for those inside the field, life is also difficult in certain aspects. You have to be tough enough to maintain top form in 90 minutes, knowing that only 3 of you will be given a rest.

Well, if you’re a football layman, you might just holler out to the coach “Let the substitutes play! All of them! Empty your bench! Give every player in uniform a chance to contribute inside the field!” But these clamors would just come out of the other ear. They won’t materialize, as football has been played under such rules for more than a century now. That’s how the game has been played in every country, in every generation.

One time when I was in a dormitory for student-athletes, I saw a large poster of Jesus portrayed as a football player. He’s dressed up in a kit (football uniform) and there’s a ball on his feet. That made me wonder. What if Jesus was a substitute in a football game? He must be yearning to get the call up from the coach, get in the game, and give the tired and weary team the push they needed. He must be the super sub, the game changer who is just waiting for coach’s decision to let him play.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 (NIV): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

In life, we don’t need to overstretch ourselves. Life is difficult, yet we make it even more difficult when we carry unnecessary load. When we face problems, we worry too much, we overthink, thus adding more stress to our miserable state. Instead of getting rid of the problem, we even cherish the woe, clinging to it for too long. We become like a coach who refuses to substitute his burned-out football players. He won’t win that way. We will win the game of life only if we understand the value of the Substitute waiting at the sidelines.

Are you fatigued? Are you stressed out? Is your burden too heavy? Why don’t you give Jesus some playing time?

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Oliver Carlos wears many hats. He's a history professor, a life coach to young adults, an athlete, a sports media practicioner, and a loving family man.

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Blog is Life

Oliver Carlos wears many hats. He's a history professor, a life coach to young adults, an athlete, a sports media practicioner, and a loving family man.