Imagine this: Your team is on a winning streak; fans are on extreme highs. Eight consecutive wins, twelve overall. NFC South champions? Wow! Can’t beat that! Pep rallies, tailgate parties and festivities are almost everywhere. Not to mention the much anticipated positive media coverage. Team colors are dominating the crowded city streets. Fireworks decorating the skies. Sold-out stadium seats and team gears becoming all too common. High spirits and enthusiasms are in full effect. And then, in an instant, it happens. Your team messes up! They slip! They lose!
And then there is life: You are on a winning streak. How? You are fulfilling, meeting, or perhaps even exceeding all of life’s expectations -yours, as well as everyone else’s. You are doing all that is asked, desired, required and/or expected of you. You are overachieving in many, if not all, aspects of life. You are realizing every dream that can possibly be dreamt. You are on an extreme high …the sky is the limit. The world loves and accepts you; it embraces and honors you; it cherishes and glorifies you; it is grateful, respectful, faithful, kind, loyal, and loving toward you. And then, in an instant, it happens. You mess up! You slip! You lose!
Now back to your team: Your team has lost. It doesn’t matter that they have won the previous games, the games that actually got them into the playoffs in the first place. It doesn’t matter that they have worked tirelessly to get to this point. What matters now is that “they should NOT have lost this game.” Losing this ONE game indicates that they did not work or try hard enough this time. As a result, the celebrations and enthusiasms are dwindling by the minute; streets are becoming clear, quiet, and gloomy; and words of inspiration and encouragements are replaced by words of sarcasms and criticisms.
And then there is life: It doesn’t matter that you have overcome many struggles and won many battles, accomplished many tasks, met and exceeded many expectations; whatever you do, “just don’t slip, fall, fail or lose.” Never mind the 99 percent of the times you’ve gotten it all right, the one percent moment you slip is what has come to define you. As a result, your “fans” begin to view you as a failure, a letdown, a disappointment. They begin to distance and disassociate themselves from you. They begin to treat you unfavorably. They begin to misunderstand you, shun you, criticize you. Just to say the least. Harsh reality, isn’t it?
That leads to these burning questions: Does one’s team actually get on that ball field expecting to lose? Probably not. Do they work tirelessly, training for the game and preparing to win? Probably so. Do they beat themselves up following a loss? Perhaps! Do they need “fans” adding insult to their injury? Probably not.
Similarly, do we approach the game of life expecting or planning to fail or lose? Probably not. Do we do the best we can preparing to succeed? Probably so. For whatever reasons our efforts fail to produce the best possible outcome, do we beat ourselves up? Perhaps! Do we need others adding insult to our injury by “helping” us beat ourselves up? Probably not.
There is a lesson to be learned here (from the game of football and the game of life), and that is, once we start focusing on the entire game season or life in its entirety rather than one unfortunate, flawed aspect of it, we can learn to love, accept, appreciate and enjoy the game. No game is perfect. No one is perfect. Life isn’t perfect. There will be winning and losing in sports and life. So what do we do, as players and spectators of the game (of football and life)? We rise up, we revamp, and when all else fails, we keep pounding!!
As one football fan puts it, “The one good thing about losing is the absolute assurance that all the bandwagon fans have officially left the station.” Any bandwagon fans in your life, those who choose not to stick around during your trials? Praise and thank God that they have officially exited; now you know who your real fans/ friends are. Hope everyone enjoys the Super Bowl!
By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids