Question #11, September 2022: How should a Christian respond to being “sharked” by an opponent in a tournament? 

Tom Rossman

Tom Rossman

I do not remember specific times when someone “sharked” me in a tournament. That is probably because I have always tried to enjoy each competitive moment via the “sights and sounds” of the table, balls, cloth, etc. (playing the table) and “not playing my opponent! I am so thankful to Elsie’s Pool Room and her stewardship over what to focus on in my formative years of learning the game. God provided a conduit of understanding via Elsie and how to treat others, the equipment, and so much more.

As I think about your question I have seen “sharking” by some players with the result of “return sharking”…creating a battle of who might get the upper hand in a game / match. This battle of wits, so to speak, often turned into a downward spiral containing negative images, demeanor, and even poor levels of play among both players. No one was winning with the result of the beauty of the game being tarnished and a loss of joy experienced among those watching.

The RACK Vision is a stewardship vision of “enjoying the roll” and uplifting fellow players, respecting the equipment, and reflecting an ambassador image for the sport so many love. Any “sharking” tactics simply water down what God intended for good to what humankind meant for bad. Better said:

Joseph recorded in Genesis 50:20 as saying to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God used it for good.”

In some cases I have noticed what when sharking occurs against another, the one being sharked becomes the beneficiary of “some good” that God revealed in the final outcome or in some other way during the match.

In summation, the Holy Spirit works through us both on and off the table, as we focus on what Jesus did on the Cross. Therefore, it is hard to “shark” a Christian because the “sharking party” is in essence “sharking” the Holy Spirit that lives within us and as portrayed by our witness in action, word, and deed.

If our mind is truly focused on Jesus, just like how “Peter focused on Jesus”, we can “walk on water” (“pool” table)…emotionally being held up / supported by the Holy Spirit in the process. Praying for the “sharking” party and planting seeds of God’s love to them will overcome anything an opponent may cast our way.

Submitted by: Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman     8/17/22

Robin Dodson

It bugs me, I haven’t arrived in my sinless body yet. I stayed quiet, I know nothing said at the time would edify anyone. But honestly, nothing pops out that I would say “Oh one time this happened “.

Steve Lillis

Steve Lillis

Having grown up in a hustling and bustling environment of the towns and cities of the greater New York New Jersey Metropolitan area in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, I unfortunately learned that sharking was a very real part of the game of pool.  In the Twight Zone episode called “A Game of Pool” by Rod Serling, a particular scene says it best when Jonathan Winters (Fats Brown) drops his cue stick on the floor to intentionally shark Jack Klugman (Jesse Carter) which causes him to miss a key shot in the match of his life.  Fats Brown responds to Jesse Carter after he complains by telling him to “get wise” and that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a champion as if to say that sharking is a part of the game and you must deal with it.  There was an element of truth in that statement but not the whole truth.

Sharking, a very real part of many pool games, is also a part of almost every sport in an attempt to gain some kind of emotional or psychological advantage.  However as a Christian we are to deal with this shady and often disrespectful side of the game differently than the world.  The world’s way is to give back the same treatment that you receive and even more so to teach the other person a lesson not to mess with you!  The Bible says through the Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament in the Book of Romans 12:21 “do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”  Maybe even more importantly Jesus said it best in Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”  How wonderful and liberating it is when we focus on God’s perspective!  Then and only then can we find true joy and the beauty of competing in the wonderful world of pool and billiards.  God bless!

Tommy Kennedy

Tommy Kennedy

Well to start out, let me say this has always been a struggle for me. I would go a few tournaments and not get sharked and then all of a sudden it would pop up, the shark would get me. It normally takes a while for it to happen and then bamm  it happens. I forgot it was going to happen. Usually it would cost me the tournament. It is really sad that it has to be this way. It’s like being under Satanic attack. I always questioned, why does this have to happen and why do I have to give in to it. It usually happens the most when I am tired. It just seems relentless and the enemy is trying to get at me. I have done everything I could to combat it, but to no avail. I just accepted it as a way of life. When you’re dealing with unsaved people and Christ rejectors, it is sure to happen. I can tell you countless times it has happened to me. But I won’t waste our time and it wouldn’t be helpful. I will just say that it happens and you have to be ready to deal with it.  This issue of sharking and how it feels is a tough subject and a very real struggle for some players. For me it is a very strong battle that I fight. I will not name names and I don’t want to complain. I will just acknowledge it to be true. Sometimes it is accidental and not meant to be a shark. But most of the time it is intentional and the player or spectator knows what they are doing. One situation that I can mention is when I was at a very big pro Bar Table event. I was playing a very big name player and during the beginning of the match, about 3 games into it, he had one of his friends come over and sit right down in the playing area. This was very inconsiderate and I feel intentional. I didn’t say anything and I prayed that God would help me to deal with it and give me the strength to not think about it. As it turned out I lost that match and was very sad about it. It wasn’t that they sharked me, it was that their attitude was the issue. The unsaved man will go to any lengths to win and to hurt anyone who stands in his way. They both knew that it was wrong to come and sit right down in the playing area. But this is very common and it happens to me so much I can’t count it. It was like I was being bullied. I had another situation years ago on the Florida Tour that my opponent sharked me by accusing me of sharking him. He said all of that Praise the Lord stuff (Sometimes I yell Praise the Lord during my matches) was just a shark technique  to shark my opponents. He was very angry. It really bothered me and I think I also lost that match because of it. It’s like reverse psychology. Your opponent blames you for sharking him when in fact he is sharking you by saying that. It’s the making you feel bad syndrome. It’s the guilt trip that they put on you. I could go on and on. All of these situations are in the past and now I have an inner strength to deal with these kinds of things. Christ has given me new strength and a new outlook on things like this. Jesus said to pray for your enemies and do good to the ones that hurt you and abuse you. This is how we are to deal with this. We are to be loving and forgiving and we are to not pay back evil for evil. The Lord Jesus Christ, (Who is God in human flesh by the way) said on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”. While they were crushing out His life, He said to forgive them. He had a spirit of forgiveness for His enemies!!! Ever since my accident when I almost died, I have come back with a greater strength and greater commitment to Christ. He helps me deal with these attacks and He gives me peace when these things happen to me. I hold no animosity towards these people and I long to reach them for Christ. If I have to bear this pain for them to be saved, so be it. I will glorify God, and not lash out at them. I know that I have a future reward and that my Redeemer lives. I know Christ will take care of me when these people try to hurt me. I have no worries. They might win for now, but I will win later in the end when I am delivered from this pain and suffering. Christ will give me peace and encouragement. Why should I fear what man may do to me.  Just to add this, I don’t always succumb to being sharked. Sometimes it isn’t even a problem.

So in closing. What should a Christian’s attitude be toward being sharked?  Forgiveness and love towards the one sharking us. An attitude of good to them in return and a love for them that only The Holy Spirit can produce in us. If we approach sharking in this way, then maybe our opponents will see our attitude and realize that there is a difference in us because Christ has changed us for real. And if they don’t, God knows our heart attitude and the struggles we face and He will reward us in the end and bless us.   Thank you everyone, Tommy