Here’s to a fall Sunday afternoon, making chili and watching football, or in this case, penalty-ball. I must admit, I’m taken aback by the sheer number of penalties in the game.

Some penalties are clear cut and obvious. For instance, you can’t blatantly attempt to injure one another without getting in trouble for it. Yet other penalties are just plain silly: celebrating a great play can cost you 15 yards, getting your head slammed into the turf by your opponent after the whistle blows and you get up and chase after said opponent, that will cost you 15 yards. Yelling at the ref who threw the flag at you and not the turf-to-head-slamming opponent will also cost you 15 yards, or something like that.The Larger Game

In all this, I can’t help but remember my favorite episode of The Real Ghostbusters, the cartoon spinoff of the original Ghostbusters movie. In the episode, called Night Game written by Kathryn M. Drennan, the Ghostbusters find themselves watching a ghostly battle of baseball. Yes, we’re switching ball games, my apologies. This particular baseball game is between Good and Evil over Winston’s soul. (Incidentally, Winston’s playing shortstop.)

As the Ghostbusters watch, late in the game, Evil changes the speed of the pitch to make it easier to hit. They bring it to the umpire’s attention. The umpire, by the way, is a giant, muscle-bound version of a grim reaper. In his booming voice, the ump asks, “You want me to declare Evil the losers for cheating?”

Venkman, in his typical flippant way, says something like, “Yeah, that’s the basic idea.”

And the Ump says, “But Evil cheats. That’s its nature. It does whatever unscrupulous or immoral thing it has to, to win. That’s why we call them Evil. Only Good is not allowed to cheat. If Good adopts the ways of Evil, it becomes Evil. So if Good cheats, Evil automatically wins.”

Brilliant, yes?

Now, let’s clarify: I don’t think of the “us and them” of sports as Good and Evil. I do, however, think the idea of such a ballgame between Good and Evil is inspired, and I daresay, genius in its writing. I don’t know when this episode first aired, a good 25+ years ago? And yet I still think of this supernatural game, time and time again when I get bogged down by life’s imbalances and anytime I experience something set up to be unfair. I remember that if Good diverts to Evil’s tactics, Evil automatically wins. And I remind myself, the way I did today watching football, that true champions can have everything riding against them, yet still play with integrity. The larger game can yet be won.

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Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

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