8 Things Football Taught Me About Life
It's finally here! The second greatest time of the year...football season! As the leaves begin to change, so do fantasy rosters, beer drinking habits, and the way you spend your time from Thursday afternoon through Monday night. I grew up in a household where football and basketball reigned supreme. I went to college smack in the middle of the SEC (ULM wasn't in the SEC, but I'd be lying if LSU wasn't the Monroe hometown favorite) where football is the ultimate way of life. Saturdays are dedicated to the SEC network and the Sundays are for the Manning brothers. Your friends are only your friends if they wear the same colors you do. It moves past NCAA into the professional league and houses become divided, if only on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons.
To many, football is a passion. It is an escape and something to look forward to on the weekends. It's how we grew up, it's something for which we've developed strong opinions and emotions. But when you take this game to a deeper level, there are strong parallels between men tackling each other and this game we call life.
1. You Can't Go It Alone
11 players. That's the number of members on field at (almost) all times. It takes 11 players, with 11 specific and differing jobs to move down the field. Yard after yard, progress after set back. You move together. They are there to support, uplift and carry one another through wins and losses. I strive to build my team. I keep around me those I am willing to stand next time through the wins and (especially) the losses. I know I'll need them.
2. Protect Your House
My daddy always told me that football is a game of war. It's one team, preventing the other from entering their house (aka end zone). It's strategic, violent and tense. In the same way defensive lines attempt to prevent their opponents from entering their house, we are to do the same. Your house belongs to you (and possibly your significant other). You fight your hardest to ensure no one else comes close to the pylons of your house, your relationships, your loved ones, your goals, your God given sanctuary.
3. Though Not Necessary, It Helps to have Cheerleaders
Your teammates from number 1 may also fall into this category, but it will always help to have a positive support system on your side. Those people, through thick and thin, are there to wave their pom poms, give you a big smile and tell you that you can do it (even if they know you can't). You'll find cheerleaders in the most unlikely places. Sure, you're parents, your family, your spouse are there to be your cheerleaders. But don't take for granted the kind words of a stranger, from a social media follower, or from an acquaintance. I use those to fuel my passions, to fall back on those words when I'm down by 8 in the 4th.
4. A Coach Will Help You Along the Way.
Remember, you are and will always been your own quarterback. When it comes down to in-game, make or break decisions, it is you who picks your receiver. But the little voice inside your helmet that helps you along the way is only there to encourage you...to help you and those around you to succeed.
5. You Will be Held Accountable for your Actions
Win or lose, there is always a press conference after the game. You'll be asked the hard questions, and you'll be expected to answer them. You are defined by the responses to life's tough situations. When you fumble, you'll be expected to answer for it. People will probe you about your failure. The "I'm just here so I don't get fined" response (thank you Marshawn) is controversial. You are not required by anyone to defend yourself but when you don't, you will receive some backlash.
6. Losses are Hard, But Next Season is Coming
It's that dreaded time when the clock runs out. You've worked all season, given it your best and you've been defeated. You have to face the harsh reality that you have lost. You're the loser (say it again if you have to). Second, or third, or even fifth best. Whether in the regular season, the playoffs, or you made it all the way to the Super Bowl and you've finished last, it still hurts. After you begrudgingly shake hands with your opponent, you carry yourself back to the locker room defeated. But as you hang your head, you have to remember that it isn't over. It's February (let's just say you made it to the Super Bowl), but August is coming. Preseason will begin again.
7. Off-Season is For Improvement
After a big project, major life event, you may have some downtime. Take this time to reassess, evaluate your actions of the recent past and strive for improvement. Run drills, exercises and ask for feedback from those around you. Do whatever is necessary to ensure that when the new season begins, you will enter better than you were before.
8. At Some Point, It's Time to Let it Go
At the end of a season, every player has a choice. Either stay in the league another year, or hang up your jersey for good and hope to see your numbers hanging high overhead in your stadium. Whether that means the end of a job to move on to the next, the end of a relationship, or the end of your career to retire for good, sections of your life will eventually run its course. Whether joyfully or apprehensively, it will be time for you to let it go. And you will be able to look back at it as a stepping stone to whatever your future holds.
There are so many other things I have learned from the game of football, but those are some of the big ones. So when the weather turns colder, school comes back in session and NFL preseason begins, it fills me with an excellent energy! It's football season! I get to pull my jerseys off the hangers in my closet, watch ESPN 24/7 and yell at my TV without question. It's the (second) most wonderful time of the year! And for this girl, it's a time to remember all the (sometimes tough) lessons I've learned and continue to learn. Season after Season.
Learn Loudly. Love Loudly. Live Loudly.