Category Archives: Sport



Originally published in Eternity On-LineTuesday 2 July 2013

Leadership issues have been front and centre in the media over the past week and in the furore of what’s been going on in Canberra you could be forgiven for missing a positive story about character and leadership and family.

An article in The Age last week demonstrated a father’s unconditional love for his son. It also highlighted several leadership characteristics based on some deep-seated values that Canberra would do well to emulate. I’m talking about Tim Watson and his love for his son, Jobe.

Tim Watson is the Channel 7 Sports anchor and is a past Captain of the AFL’s Essendon team. He is one of Essendon’s favourite ‘sons’. Tim’s son, Jobe is the current Captain of Essendon and the holder of the 2012 Brownlow medal as the best and fairest player last year. But Jobe is caught up in the so called ‘drugs scandal’ haunting the AFL (and in particular Essendon Football Club) and came out recently admitting that one of the drugs he was given last year—an anti-obesity drug—has been placed on the banned list and is not cleared for human consumption. Jobe’s confession was filled with the humility that we have come to expect of this exceptional sportsman.

Image: Flickr under a CC licence, Rich in Kensington:

Image: Flickr under a CC licence, Rich in Kensington:

Since then there have been cries to ban Jobe Watson from playing and even suggestions he should hand back his Brownlow Medal. Essendon’s response is that the story can’t be told while the investigation is continuing, though they are confident that when the whole story does come out, the Essendon players will be exonerated. As a one-eyed Essendon supporter, I hope that’s true!

So, that’s the background. Tim Watson was interviewed by his Channel 7 colleagues about his son’s confession. In the interview, he spoke of the possibility of the Brownlow being handed back. The Age reported it in the following words:

Watson appeared to be close to tears after he watched footage detailing the events of the week, that included his son being booed throughout Thursday night’s game between Essendon and West Coast in Perth.

“To me the Brownlow doesn’t define Jobe, and I’m talking as a father now,” said Watson. “We didn’t love him any more because he won the Brownlow and we wouldn’t love him any less if he lost the Brownlow.

“If that happens, we have two choices: he goes and wins another one, or Rob Harvey’s got two and I know where Rob lives and maybe we can take one of Rob’s.”

Take a moment to note the values that lie behind this father talking about his son. Here’s what I can see: Identity formation, unconditional love, moving on in life, and equality of distribution.

Identity formation: Watson points out that this is not about his son’s identity. Sport is sport and it must never become more than that. It especially must never be seen to define who I am as a person. When we mistake performance identity (how well I do at something) with personal identity (who I am as a person) we are setting ourselves up for some serious problems. There is an epidemic of this in Western society. The Judeo-Christian approach is that ‘personhood’ is discovered in the Bible. Our performance does not define us; instead we are defined by our nature as human beings and our character as individuals in relational community. Watson got it right: the Brownlow does not, and should not, define Jobe as a person.

Unconditional love: Watson says that the winning and the losing of a sports award has nothing to do with his love for his son. How many kids long to hear that from their dads? In a ‘former life’, I was involved in counselling people who were in our gaol system because of drug related crimes and I would often hear about their cries for unconditional love. They didn’t necessarily call it that but that’s what they were describing to me. Again, the Judeo-Christian ethic highlights the importance of such love. The Greek word Agape, used to describe God’s love for humans and the highest call of humans love in relationships, is a love that has no conditions imposed on it. Again, Watson got it right and I think Jobe is a lucky man to have a father like him.

Handling disappointment: When life kicks us hard, we have different choices before us. One of those choices is to pick ourselves up and move on, to get on with the job of life. This is what is being proposed by Tim Watson. If my son loses the medal it will be a great disappointment, no denying that, but the rest of his life is out there for the taking and he will get on with it instead of letting the disappointment define his future. This reminds me of the Bible’s teaching when it records James (one of Jesus’ brothers) as saying that hard times should be allowed to produce perseverance because that’s what character and maturity is built from (James 1:2-4).

Equal distribution of what we have: Robert Harvey (a past AFL star footballer) has two Brownlow medals. ‘He needs to learn to share’ is essentially what Watson is suggesting. Yes, what a great idea! OK, OK, I know I’m taking it too far and that Watson was only joking on this one…

In this interview we catch a glimpse of the home environment that Jobe Watson was privileged to grow up in. It’s refreshing and it’s also a challenge. All our kids and grandkids need to have that sort of home environment: they thrive in it. But these characteristics need to be applied to leadership in all sectors of society.

Imagine a world based on prizing people for who they are rather than how well they perform, and on unconditional love expressed as acceptance and respect no matter what they are like on the outside, and seeped in encouragement and support to persevere through the hardest of times. Now there’s a society to be proud of. Tim Watson for Prime Minister?

Food for thought.

Dr David Wilson is Director of Sophia Think Tank and an avid Essendon supporter.


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The last few week’s Food for Thought offerings have been dealing with subjects such as cricket and leadership, federal elections, easter, racism, and everyday heroes.  I remember a song from Crosby, Stills and Nash that had the words ‘…anything you want to know, just ask me…I’m the world’s most opinionated man’.  Well, I hope I don’t come across that way but reading through all the topics I offer opinions about in Food for Thought……Hmmmmmm!  I want your opinions as well.  Let me know what you think of the following and I’ll give you my opinion of your opinions about my opinions…..Oh my goodness, where will it end!!??

On the elections:

On leadership:

On Easter:

On racism:

On everyday heroes:



My submission for Food for Thought this week is a look at the issues Essendon AFL club are facing, along with Australian sports in general.  Have a read and let me know what you’re thinking…..



This week’s Food for Thought is from Robert Martin, the Melbourne Director of City Bible Forum. He talks about the enigma of someone so talented and successful and yet so deceptive and self-centred. I invite you to have a read of it here and then come back to my thoughts and let me know what you think……

Robert Martin likens Armstrong to the Biblical character of King Saul. He had everything going for him but was overtaken by lusting for even more and the pride that goes with that life view. Armstrong seems to have had the same problem. Dallas Willard says that the essence of temptation is that it plays upon the desire for more. Never content with what we have already we lust for something more. But before we get too critical of Lance Armstrong and King Saul and those other people at work that you’re thinking about as you read this, let’s remember that this is the essence of human nature as we know it. No-one is all evil and no-one is all good. We come with a crazy mixture of both. I guess that some people’s ‘crazy mixture’ is more extreme and hurtful than others and that for some it’s a very public craziness, but we’re all in the same boat (or ‘on the same bike’ maybe a better analogy in this context!). This reminder should keep the judgement dogs at bay and the appreciation of grace and forgiveness uppermost in our minds (along with being grateful for privacy) while at the same time not condoning the wrong doing, from Armstrong, King Saul, those people at work…. or ourselves.  Grace!  Now where was it that I was reading about that…..

The other thing I noticed while reading Robert Martin’s blog was the question from the blogger Andrew: “Why did you have to get caught?’ Now obviously Andrew is feeling let down by Armstrong’s actions but apparently the real problem here was that he got caught. This reminds me of me as a child. I’d do something wrong and feel really bad…. ifI got caught.  It reminds me of my Kids when they were young and my Grandkids, most of whom are still young. It’s a kid thing but I thought we were supposed to grow out of that!  One of the things that the Judeo-Christian ethic teaches us is that wrongdoing is wrongdoing, whether we’re caught or not.  Back to the Old Book I reckon.

Food for thought…..


Michael Schluter Video Parts 2 and 3

You can now view Parts 2 and 3 of the Urban Conversations with Michael Schluter on Relational Thinking.  Our apologies that the picture is lost in some places….. technical problems and all that!!  The sound continues all the way through and it is worth listening to.  Enjoy, be challenged, and blog with us…


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Relational Thinking: a vision for engagement in public life

At a recent Urban Conversation, Michael Schluter presented the idea that we should be involved in a new paradigm of thinking and acting that puts relationships at the centre of all we are and do.  He suggested that this is radically Christian in that this is what Christ did and those who profess to follow Him can do nothing other than seek to imitate this lifestyle.

Well, that got some dialogue going….

My question asks what would that look like in each of the Drivers that ST2 talks about.  How would Relatonal Thinking be applied to Media, Arts, Business, Sports, Community Services, Health,Justice, Law, Education, and Politics?  What are the specific challenges and what are the rewards that could be reaped?  For example, I do a fair bit of work in the Justice area.  Schluter mentioned that Relational Thinking would make a big difference in the Prison system.  Yep, it sure would!  But what would that look like?  I wanted to ask him on the night but didn’t get the chance.  What do you think?

I’d love to hear from you if you’re involved in one of the Drivers (and who isn’t in some way or other?) about the application of Relational Thinking in your area of expertise.

Come on, let’s keep the conversation going….


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