Who Do You Work for?
I just spent more than 30 hours during the weekend as a tournament director for a high school tennis tournament in which 9 schools from all over Southeast Asia participated. At the end of the day there were more than 200 sets played. We began our days at 6:00 AM and finished around 10:00 PM. We had just enough time to eat some dinner and hop into bed.
This morning is a school day, but I am way too tired to be in school so I decided to call in for a substitute for my classes. Before I called in I had some feelings of guilt as if I were so weak for being so tired and not being able to keep on going despite the exhausting days in +30 temperatures managing all kinds of variables including rain delays. The guilt of not being strong enough was haunting me so I began to do some reflection of where it was coming from.
The question that keeps resounding in my head is that of who I work for. During the tournament I kept feeling pressure from various people to shorten the tournament especially for those who did not qualify for the semifinals. As I felt the pressure I kept reminding myself that the games for 8th place are just as important for those players as the games for first. The tennis players just want to play lots of tennis. They love being on the court. After a rain delay on the first day we ended up playing two hours after the original schedule. At 8 PM all of the courts were full, the lights were on, but there were only 2 official matches left. Everyone just kept playing despite the fact that the schedule was over.
During the second day God stepped in as if to validate my feelings. Just when the final matches were to begin to decide champions and third place, it began to pour rain and didn’t stop for the next 6 hours. The third place matches got canceled and the first places ones went indoors and were shortened considerably so that we could finish the tournament. So in the end it was the 5th to 8th places that got the best court times and had the most matches. It was if God were saying to me that everyone is important, not just the champions. Everyone deserves and should get his time on the courts and when I am doing my job correctly, in His eyes, no one is singled out for more time than anyone else.
But why do I feel guilty about not going to work when I worked such ungodly hours so that everyone could play? It dawned on me that the pressure is to favor the people at the top. Be it the first place players, the director of the school, or whatever head of something, they tend to believe that they should have more time and the best resources and everyone else should serve that end. The lower down the ladder we are, the more we tend to serve whatever they want, hoping that that we will get our time on the courts. They usually don’t give it because they are more interested in their position on the ladder than on giving everyone a chance.
Part of me is working for all of the players including 8th place, but another is just serving the top and their selfish aims without realizing that they have no thought of mine. They just expect me to do whatever they wish.
At one point in the tournament one of the coaches of the top four teams became upset with me when I told him that we had moved the semifinal match up and they had to get on the court. If was as if he thought he should have special privileges and I should give the team more time. I held firm and the team did fine without special treatment. It just proved the point that all leaders should know. People at the top don’t perform better with special treatment. They do equal or better when they have the same privileges and resources as everyone else.
I just need to remind myself that I am working for the 8th place players just as much as the first place ones. I am very grateful that the rain came when the showcase games were supposed to happen. The tournament was a success because of how treated 8th place, not how we treated first.