This reflection is about football. That subject may seem like a departure for me, especially if you’ve read my blog before, but it’s really not. Football happens to be one of my favorite topics of conversation. But, don’t worry – even if you don’t like the game or understand the jargon, keep reading, there’s more. Because this post is about the life lessons that one can learn from watching football. You may scroll to read the detailed text or watch the video version below.
First: Life is a team sport.
Football is obviously a team sport, no matter how much some players may think that the game is all about them. Now, although the quarterback gets most of the spotlight, hype, criticism, and glory, he knows that he is completely dependent upon his 10 teammates on the field – not to mention coaches, coordinators, trainers, and, obviously, the defense and special teams, who are both responsible for ball position on the field as well as score on the board. No matter how well your quarterback may throw the ball, if he and the receiver aren’t communicating, or if the receiver drops the ball, then it’s all for naught. Of most importance to the QB are the offensive line and other blockers, without whom the quarterback would just be scrambling around, trying not to become a permanent dent on the turf.
Teamwork is also essential in real life. I know this personally and extremely, because I’m completely dependent upon other people for my every physical need. I know that I can’t survive without others. But, do you know that? No one is totally independent or self-sufficient. Yes, we interact with others, in some way, to get the basic resources of food, clothing, and shelter – but we also need each other for direction, encouragement, and, most of all, love. We cannot be fully human, fully alive, without love.
Let’s us remember that we’re all in this together and love one another.
Second: It’s important to do your job.
“Do your job” is the famous mantra of Coach Belichick. When a defensive player isn’t doing his job, it’s rather obvious, because a receiver goes uncovered and the other team makes a big play. Even a perfect season can be ruined by one person not doing his job. It’s about being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there and fulfilling your role in the team. In football, as in real life, we have particular roles to play. Each person has God given gifts, talents, strengths, and a mission to fulfill. We can’t do all things in all situations. But, what we can do, what we’re called upon to do, we must do with diligence and excellence.
Now, your particular job is highly unlikely to have direct influence on changing the world. But, it is your job to influence your family, your circle of friends, your workplace, or your community, for the better. You may be just some rookie, backup corner named Malcolm Butler, say – but, if you do the grunt work of your job, preparing, training, and practicing, then when you are called to step up… well, you may just secure the championship for your team with one small act.
In my life, I’m able to do many things (have a blog, make videos, volunteer for my parish, write stories, essays, and poetry) because I live at home with my parents. However, if I lost my whole family, God forbid, then I would end up in a nursing home. In that situation, it would be my job to merely be patient, forgiving, and cheerful. There’s nothing “mere” about that – it would probably be the hardest job in the world! But, doing it well would benefit everyone around me, my fellow residents, and the staff members taking care of me. I would still be able to fulfill my job of inspiring others. And doing my job would help them to do theirs.
Third: A selfless act is a beautiful thing.
There’s nothing prettier in all of football than when a highly talented wide receiver uses his abilities and strength, not to score a touchdown, but to block the defenders so that one of his teammates can go in and get the score. Sometimes, what we are called on to do is to help another get success. Good parents are examples of this. My parents, with the sacrifices that they make in order to take care of me every day… well, they are wonderfully amazing examples of the beauty and power of self giving.
Fourth – going for it on fourth down: Every moment of life is precious.
Life is beautiful – I believe this strongly and am grateful for every moment of my life, even through the difficult times, the weakness, the suffering. I will try my best to live my life excellently, right through my life’s natural end and into eternity.
Want a football example for the importance of treating every moment of life as precious? Okay. The New England Patriots were down by 25 points in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI. Most people thought that the game was over and, perhaps, another team may have thought that way, too. But, not New England. Coach had always drilled into them the importance of using and playing every second of the game, right until the end, no matter how bitter that end might be. Doing your job is what matters, being there for your teammates and giving your all for the team – that’s more important than any statistics. With this understanding, the Patriots were able to soldier on with their very best, employing every second wisely – and ended up victorious to the amazement of the world.
So, there you have it! Enjoy the season – not just the football season, but also every season that comes your way. And go Pats!
© 2017 Christina Chase
I don't call myself a poet — but the beating of my heart is poetry. I don't call myself a theologian — but the light of my mind seeks the Divine. Who I am is a Child of God, a Divine Creation, a person devoted to being fully human, fully alive.