“Headed” The Right Way!


Soccer is the number one sport in the world, yet it lags far behind as a spectator sport here in the United States. Compared to the high scoring games of basketball, baseball, and football I can see why. But I have a greater appreciation of the sport than most after having played it in high school 40 years ago.  In fact my senior year I was the captain of the team. It is a fun game to play and there is at least one play in soccer that would make my list of top ten most beautiful plays in sports to watch. Part of that beauty, to me comes from the fact that I actually accomplished it while in high school.

My position back then was called “left-halfback”. My job was to cover most of the field, so I  typically was not on the attack to score against the other team.  But occasionally I did get a shot at making a goal. That chance arrived during that third game when we played a high-powered team that was located just outside Washington D.C.  The score at the half was zero to zero.  Then, early in the second half a shot on goal went off their goalie’s hand and out-of-bounds. We were given a “corner kick.”  A corner kick is when the ball is placed at the corner of the field and the wing player kicks the ball across the front of the opponent’s goal so that his teammates have a chance to kick it in. On rare occasion, a teammate may be lucky enough to “head” it in. And this play, “the header” is a thing of beauty to watch.

The teammate of mine who was doing the corner-kick for us was a left footer. I positioned myself on the far side of the goalpost. What happened next is still fresh in my mind. The lefty kicked a beautiful ball that just sailed over the crowd in front of the goal. The goalie leaped to knock the ball away but it just cleared his outstretched fist, and there I was; all alone on the far side of the goal! Boom! I followed that ball all the way to my forehead where I headed it straight into the net for a goal. It really was a thing of beauty! No, you don’t see too many head goals in soccer. It’s the only one I ever saw in all of high school.

Soccer is just a game but in the game of life it is also important to be “precise” in the direction in which we point our heads. A few years ago Dallin Oaks gave some thoughts regarding this subject when he spoke at a devotional at BYU. He said:

“The direction in which we are headed is critically important, especially at the beginning of our journey. I have a friend who concluded his career as a pilot flying long routes across the Pacific for a major airline. He told me that an error of only two degrees in the course set on the 4,500-mile, direct-line flight from Chicago to Hilo, Hawaii, would cause the plane to miss that island by more than 145 miles to the south. If it were not a clear day, the pilot could not even see the island, and there would be nothing but ocean until you got to Australia. But of course you wouldn’t get to Australia, because you wouldn’t have that much fuel. Small errors in direction can cause large tragedies in destination.

All of us—and especially young people—need to be very careful about the paths we choose and the directions in which we set our lives. What seem to be only small deviations in direction or small detours from the straight and narrow path can result in huge differences in position down the road of life. Potentially destructive deviations often seem so small that some find it easy to justify “just this once.” When that temptation arises—as it will—I urge you to ask yourself, “Where will it lead?” (“Where Will It Lead?, New Era, Aug 2007).

All of us need to remember that “out of small things proceeded that which is great.” (D&C 64:33).

Great things can be gained by small deviations but great harm can also result from small deviations. It is by “small means” that great things can come to pass, not only in the sense of the gospel, but in our own individual lives. We need to remember to be precise in following the commandments lest we miss the chance of “heading” in the right direction and miss the goal.


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