Friday, December 05, 2008

Lessons from the gridiron

Last Friday, I watched the 2008 Egg Bowl at my significant other’s deer camp. Not only was I the only female in attendance, I was the only Rebel in the house.

My heart broke for all those men who were so devastated by the loss of their team. I hope they will recover and not need intense psychotherapy. (Note: Prior two sentences are dripping in sarcasm.)

I watched the game calmly in my chair – conducting myself with dignity. I did not chant one “Hotty Toddy.” I did not mock them for having more than 50 negative total yards rushing. I did not snicker at one interception for a touchdown.

I am certain my face clearly illustrated my smugness, and my air of superiority was definitely thick. But I did not gloat. I didn’t have too. Those Bulldog fans decompressed before my very eyes.

It was kind of sad, but I’m not complaining. I didn’t have to hear one, “How ‘bout them Dawgs?” Everyone already knew how the Dawgs were.

Being a lifelong Ole Miss fan, I understand disappointment. All four years I attended Ole Miss, our team was on athletic probation. No bowl games. No televised games. Tough recruiting.
However, I survived, and I learned a little bit in the process. I learned a little about winning, and I learned a lot about losing.

At a young age, we are forced to choose between the Rebels and the Bulldogs. I chose the Rebels, but I could just as easily have been ringing a cowbell right now. Personally, I’m happy if either team is victorious – with the exception of the Egg Bowl. I’ve been waiting to talk smack for an entire year!

Competitive by nature, I enjoy sparing with the Bulldog fan about this and that – neither of us have reason for puffed up egos. However, it’s all in good fun. Football is football, and all football is good.

In fact, my appreciation of football has spilled over into my everyday life. If life is the ultimate game, why not use a few lessons from the gridiron to help muddle through.

1. Who is calling the plays in your life? Just like in football, I have someone upstairs calling the plays. It is up to me to listen and have faith in the play that is called.

2. Everyone deserves a team, and I’m not referring to people in numbered jerseys. Disappointments are easier to swallow when others are there to pick you up when life tackles you to the ground. In turn, success is so much sweeter when someone is there to dance with you in the end zone.

3. Luckily, I have had many coaches and trainers directing me throughout my life. In high school, my English teacher, Denise Purvis, steered me to a career in writing. As a green reporter in my early 20s, I was taught advanced civics and all the bells and whistles of municipal government from a city administrator who took the time to make sure I knew enough to get the story right. Even now, as an editor and publisher, I depend on the wisdom of two veteran newspaper men to help me weigh the tough decisions.

4. Everyone needs cheers and applause for a job well done. What motivation! I learned long ago to surround myself with people who bring out the best in me. Mark Twain said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

5. During a particularly stressful time, a simple timeout allows me to gather my thoughts and refocus. Most days, I make an effort to leave my office for 30 minutes to an hour for a little nourishment – the dietary kind as well as the psychological kind. I might read a couple of chapters of a book, stop by for some time with my dogs, or relax for a few minutes with my thoughts. Returning to the office, I am ready to begin again.

In Mississippi, our lives are saturated with football – dinnertime discussions, water cooler replays, life-long affiliations. American’s sport is great to watch, but I have found it a better way to live.

1 comment:

Alpaca Farmgirl said...

What a great post! I'm a Southern gal too with ties to LSU, Alabama, Auburn, and the University of Texas. Football is a part of us. Thanks for articulating the finer points we learn from it along the way.