My daughter started playing soccer as a little tike, long before there were actual positions. The young girls swarmed the ball like bees to a honeycomb. Plus, they were so pleasant to each other. They took seriously their manners taught. Aggression had yet to surface as an acceptable option come game time.
Despite the tentativeness, injuries did happen. And when they did, every girl took a knee. “Player down!” the ref would yell and as on cue, every player dropped to …the ground to wait. To wait till the player was checked on, attended to and either carted off the field for a Band-Aid or gained her stamina enough to get back in the game.
I love this ritual. Although my daughter is older now and soccer more sophisticated (they actually play positions and sneak a mean elbow now and again), they still maintain the civility of “take a knee.” Despite the competition, every player is cared for. If one is down, they all go down. At least until the injured player can rejoin the action.
I have begun to think how we really should add this practice to the playbook of relationships. If one player is down, the other one stops in his/her tracks and takes a knee. All action is temporarily postponed so that we can attend to the injured party. Because, we are a team and thus, we must work as a team to get our partner back in the game. Whole and healthy, ready for more action.
So, when your partner is emotionally dysregulated (upset), frustrated or injured, take a knee. Call time. Ask him or her what you can do to help. What do they need from you right now? Now is not the time to shout at the referee. Or argue the facts of the play. Or even look at game tape. None of that matters right now. What matters is that your partner knows you have their back. That you are taking a knee as act of love, as a sign of solidarity.
If my daughter continues to play soccer, the game is only going to get more brutal. It will be all out war with mounting injuries. Despite this acceleration of intensity, I hope they never stop taking a knee when a teammate goes down. For indeed, everyone counts in the lineup.
May we all be fortunate enough to both be a generous team player and to have a generous teammate. You might want to purchase some knee pads while you’re at it. You’re gonna need them.