28 December 2015

The coin toss and the captain who chooses


The coin flip at the beginning of overtime in today's New England Patriots vs New York Jets is controversial. Not that the coin landed on its side. The call by special teams captain Matthew Slater #18 may have been the weirdest call in history. I watched the replay several times. Referee Clete Blakeman said after Slater chose 'heads' and it landed 'heads', "You want to kick?" And then the response by Slater was almost parroting. "We want to kick" When Slater argued "We won, don't we get to choose?" it appeared that Slater tried to fix things, but Blakeman wouldn’t let him. The commentators wondered if it was 'muscle memory' as the Patriots often when winning the toss at a game's beginning will choose to defer/ kick and take the kickoff at the 2nd half. This whole ending was odd.

Right now, there is discussion in cricket to scrap the tradition of the coin toss, and when we say 'tradition' we are talking since 1744! Whereas in many sports the toss is often irrelevant, in cricket it often does matter. The pitch deteriorates throughout the five days of a test match, and getting in early is crucial. Unless the pitch is very green, and the conditions are overcast, it's sensible to follow the axiom of WG Grace who said, ‘When you win the toss – bat. If you are in doubt, think about it, then bat. If you have very big doubts, consult a colleague – then bat.’

So some situations warrant defence and some offence, and it's up to the captain to decide which way the team should go. This Patriots situation is bizarre with QB Tom Brady with or without a deflated ball ready to go on the sideline. You have to wonder what else took place out in the middle, and maybe the NFL will investigate and let us all know conclusively. You have to wonder if Steve Harvey was on a microphone nearby or Regis Philbin was saying "Is that your final answer?"

Turned out that the coach Bill Belichek had actually wanted Slater to kick if he won the toss.

Still, the coin toss is a random luck-but-also-probability game I've studied for years. After all I used to teach high school mathematics.

So who is the captain in your life? Who helps you make a decision when you have to choose heads or tails? And then when you win the toss, what has the captain told you to choose? Life gives us many choices, in what we will do in time off or when to arrive for a meeting. We have to choose where to attend uni and what career path to take. The captain knows better than we on the team know. And if you know that I'm speaking about Yeshua, the Captain of our Souls, the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the World, then this makes sense. The Greek word for 'captain' is 'strategos' which is used 3 times in the Book of Acts. At times the word indicates a magistrate or a politician. In the modern Hellenic Army, a stratigós is the highest officer rank.

I've been a believer for 40 years and find that a quick check-in at headquarters, with Yeshua my Captain, informs me about life choices, and especially about life mistakes. When I am sent 'on the field' and have to engage with the enemy, if I have my plans set, if my play is determined and I am out to carry out His plans-- life is good.

May I recommend that you personally ask God what His plans are for you, and for your life this week, this year, and resolve to follow Him. He knows the percentages. He has the final answer. Sh'ma... listen to Him!

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