I’m going to go watch the Super Bowl with my dad. He’s 93 and still loves a good football game. We were talking the other day and I was reminded of an incident that happened when I was about 12 or 13 years old that was something of a life lesson for me.
This was a long time ago and so the details around it are a little fuzzy.
It happened when I was playing youth (American) football
I don’t even remember the names of the kids I was playing with. I just have this very clear memory of standing on the rough dirt field. (No nice soft grass for us.) And thinking “oh shit!” because the other team was bigger, faster and more aggressive than we were and we were getting our asses well and truly kicked up one side and down the other!
I remember it being a decisive moment of for me in my young life. I mean I could have quit. I could have walked off the field and gone and sat on the bench. I could have thrown my helmet down and gone home and played with my Lincoln logs or something.
But I didn’t
We all had skinned knees and various other small injuries and we were all huffing and puffing, struggling to get enough oxygen into our lungs to keep going.
Up to this point football had been fun, you got to run around, tumble on the ground and mix it up with your buddies. It was all good natured, enjoyable fun for a 12 year old kid.
This was different.
The other team was serious as a heart attack and they weren’t fooling around.
I remember being on defense and looking around at my team mates (keep in mind we were a bunch of 12 year old boys) and of the 11 of us standing there in the defensive huddle probably 8 or 9 of us had tears running down our cheeks behind our face masks.
We were all hurt, tired and scared.
And the other team had just called another play and was lining up on the ball.
I remember clearly at that point It ceased being about a football game somehow. It was almost a survival thing. What are you going to do? Are you going to quit, turn tail and run? (Which is what most of us wanted to do I think) Or are you going to line up and try to stop them one more time and almost inevitably get your ass kicked again.
I don’t remember who won the game. Although I guarantee it wasn’t us.
But I do remember after the game being sore and very tired but feeling strangely satisfied. I had learned something about myself and about life.
What do you do when the odds are not in your favor? When your knees are bloody and your lungs hurt. When things seem completely stacked against you and you don’t have the answers?
And the other team keeps calling another play.
What do you do?
You cinch your chinstrap a little tighter, bite down on your mouth guard a little harder and you line up and you give it your best shot. Because in the end all that matters is to be able to walk away knowing you gave it all you had.
In the long run, if you give it all you have. Leave it all on the field (Metaphorically) you may lose a few games along the way but most things are going to work out pretty good for you…
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