Football and the Game of Life

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I love football.

I love everything about football. I love the speed of the game, the strength and agility of the athletes moving in ways that seems to disobey the laws of nature, and the strategic thinking of the coaches trying to outwit and out-scheme their opponent.

I enjoy all sports, to be honest. But football has always held a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s because I played it when I was a kid. I remember all my neighborhood friends getting together in the back yard, picking teams and playing all afternoon. When the game was over we all talked about the big plays, the missed tackles, dropped passes and the fun we had.

Freshman Football

I remember high school pep-rallies on Thursdays in front of the entire school and games under the lights on Friday nights. I remember Saturday afternoon games played rain or shine. Muddy fields were the great equalizer. By the time the game was over both teams were wearing the same mud-colored uniforms and it was hard to tell one player from the next.

The smell of a crisp fall day still brings me back to those times and makes me think of those games and those friends… and I always smile.

Regardless if you played a sport or not, many live vicariously through the wins and losses of their favorite collegiate or professional teams. We gather around televisions, congregate in parking lots, and pile into local bars, dressed in team colors and ready to will our team to victory.

Football and familyWe high-five, cheer with and hug strangers in victory. We commiserate, help rationalize and offer moral support to those same strangers in loss. We lose ourselves in the final seconds of the game, where the world seems to stands still and there is nothing but this moment.

And then it’s over. The clock hits zero. One team celebrates while the other heads back to the locker room.

How you feel about the outcome of the game often depends on who won and who lost. But it actually goes much deeper than that.

If your happiness is attached entirely to the outcome, then your happiness is controlled by that outcome. But if your happiness is attached to the action and participation of watching the game, then the outcome has far less impact on your happiness. Or in other words, it’s not about the destination but about the journey.

Many people live their lives focused on the outcome rather than the action taken to get there. They miss out on the moments because they are too focused on the results. And when the outcome isn’t exactly what they wanted, they feel the entire journey was a waste.

When I look back on those games I played in the back yard, I don’t remember who won or lost. I don’t remember if I made the catch or dropped the ball. What I remember is the fun I had playing. I remember my friends I played with and what they meant to me then… and what they still mean to me to me today.

So enjoy your sports. Get together with friends, family and strangers. Yell, cheer and shout for your team. Enjoy the game and have fun. When the clock hits zero and the game is over remember, it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you played the game that counts. And that doesn’t just go for sports… but for life!


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