Over the weekend, my team took one on the chin in heartbreaking fashion. We played very hard and caused the game to go into overtime, but were unable to pull out victory.
Even though I didn’t play in the game, I’m still taking it hard. I can only imagine what it would be like to be one of the players today. However, with the gift of retrospect, I am able to look at football differently today since I have been removed from the game. I’ve learned a lot from participation in that sport, and I will share some of what the coaches have said over the years and how it applies to every day life.
Football is a game of inches. Often in football, a few inches can swing momentum in a game, or be the difference in winning and losing. Its hard to believe that an entire athletic contest can be determined by such a minute measure, that men have wrestled for control, sweating and exerting themselves, only to have a basic unit of measurement determine the outcome of all their effort.
Life is much like that. Its hard to believe how marginal the difference is between a set of outcomes can be for us. Sometimes we are just lucky to have been the X person standing in line. Or, on a more serious note, shooting victims miss dying by inches. Whether it be receiving a promotion or missing a traffic light, this corollary applies.
Run to the ball and good things happen. Running to the ball in football is sound advice since everything revolves around the ball. A team cannot score without the ball; a team needs to advance the ball utilizing its personnel. So, in order to be able to make an impact, one needs to be around the ball.
The same thing goes in life. Find out where the action is and gravitate toward it. You will likely receive some of the positive benefits of being in the vicinity.
Everyone has a plan until they get hit. Though I’ve never played running back (I was a lineman), I’m sure they all think the same way: they are going to get the ball, juke left, outrun the defenders, score a touchdown, and get the cheerleader’s phone number. Then they get the hand off and there’s a huge middle linebacker who plants them on their back, causing them to re-evaluate why they decided to play ball in the first place.
In life, we like to plan everything out and feel like we know how it turn out. That is, until we face a little adversity. Then we get to find out what our true character is. Do we regroup and move forward? Or do we fold it in? Were our plans even that important to begin with?
Give 110% on every play/play to the echo of the whistle. This trope is clichéd in society such that everyone recognizes what it means. Give full effort when you are involved in the play. This means that everything you do, do to the best of your ability. This will reduce your chance of injury and much like running to the ball, good things happen. And if you continue to give good effort until the very end (play until the echo of the whistle), then you will be in a position to benefit from something good, or at the very least, have no regrets about the outcome. If we took the same approach to life, there would be a lot less people carrying regret and sorrow because they gave their best at the initial opportunity.
Don’t complain to the referees. This is pretty self explanatory. The referees are there to enforce the rules, or are the personification of the rulebook. You can argue with them until you are blue in the face, but it won’t change the call. Its best to go back to the huddle, regroup, and give a better effort the next time.
Life’s the same way … you will be dealt a hand that you had no control over how it was dealt to you. Maybe you are an orphan, or your family was poor, or maybe you were middle class looking at the rich kids across the street. That sucks, but that’s life. You do have control over your approach in pursuing your success.
You have to want it more. At the end of the day, the attitude and effort we give on the football field determined our wins and losses most of the time. We were able to beat teams that were more talented because we outworked them consistently over the course of a game. There were games that we lost to supremely talented guys, but we could live with that; we maximized our abilities and though the other team was victorious, it did not come easy.
That’s what life is about in a nutshell: perserverance. There may be things that we want today that we may not have. But we cannot give up; we must press forward and endure. We have to continue to have ambition and drive to strive. Our prior circumstances only provide us with challenges for our next steps.
Of course, football taught me much more than I have laid out here. I thank the game for the wonderful messages inscribed in the subtlety of each snap. When my children grow up, hopefully they will have a chance to play football and learn lessons within a relatively safe and structured context, as opposed to the hard knocks of real life.
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