Dealing with Anger in sports

Anger in sports is not uncommon—in fact, it is often more open and unrestrained than what we might see in other arenas of life. In NASCAR, anger often boils over on the track as drivers seek to retaliate for something done to them—sometimes even things done weeks before. Anger can also spill over onto pit road with fights between crew members, confrontations with drivers, and, occasionally, even a dustup between drivers’ girlfriends!

Why is this kind of anger so prevalent? It is, in part, the result of the heat of competition—but there is more. It also has to do with the extraordinary pressure that the sport generates. It is an extremely expensive sport to operate in, and with dwindling sponsorships and even fewer opportunities for quality rides, there is a lot riding on every race for every driver. Any affront—real or otherwise—can explode in anger that wants to strike back because of what is at stake.

This is a reality we face in life—whether it is at work, at home, or on the drive in between (called “road rage”). There are times when our knee-jerk response to how we are treated by others is to explode with anger, but that is not what is best, and sometimes can actually be very destructive. So then, how should we deal with anger?

The wisdom of the Bible says much about anger. Christ even exhibited anger at times, but always in ways that were appropriate and in harmony with the purposes of the Father. For our need to manage anger, we will focus on three statements of the Bible that can show us a path of wisdom…

  • We need self-control: For this (Galatians 5) we need the help of the Holy Spirit, who gives us the “fruit of the Spirit,” one of which is self-control. That self-control can enable us to have a more the challenges we face. To that end, the book of Proverbs advises,  “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” (Prov.16:32)
  • We need a merciful spirit: We would do well to learn to show mercy to others. To always react before understanding the struggles and challenges others may be facing is to live a very self-centered life. “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Prov.19:11)
  • We need to seek resolution instead of revenge: “BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” (Eph.4:26) “Don’t let the sun go down”… it is a phrase that means we should move for reconciliation before it is too late, rather than sitting and stewing on moments of mistreatment.

While anger can be appropriate, it is often a deadly force looking for an outlet. The undeniable fact is that we need the wisdom and strength of God to control it. Tomorrow on Sports Spectrum radio we will continue this discussion—I hope you can join us.

Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain