I spent my childhood on the sidelines of football fields. I guess the only change now is that I enjoy the air conditioning of the press box. As the daughter of a high school football coach, our lives revolved around the sport as kids. Some of the most significant moments in my life have happened around the sport. I even met my husband in the press box of Crusader Stadium.
I love everything about the sport. The smell of game day in the fall. That feeling of serenity when they turn the stadium lights out for the night. The way it bands people together. The way it’s taught me about life.
I know a lot about football. But I know more because of it.
While everyone else watches the receiver who catches the ball, I watch the ones who jog back to the line after running their route, line up and run it again, never knowing if the ball will be thrown their way or they’ll even have a chance at a catch.
I watch the offensive line. The way they hit the line hard, get knocked down, line up and hit it again. The linemen are some of the only players who can play an entire game and not record a single statistic. They’re in the trenches, fighting every play but their names rarely show up in a box score. But they’re the first ones on the line when it’s game time.
I watch the way a defense operates when its back is against the wall. How they line up on the two-yard line and fight for every inch when everyone else in the stadium has already resigned their fate.
Watching how the receivers continue to exhaust themselves never knowing if their number is going to be called has taught me that glory comes from what you put into something and not always what you get out of it.
Watching how the linemen continue to sign up for a fight people don’t often notice until they lose it has taught me how to get back up when life continually knocks you down.
Watching how hard a defense fights on the two-yard line when everyone else has already given up on them has taught me that the fight isn’t over until I give up on myself.
Glory comes from what you put into something and not always what you get out of it.
And those lessons don’t stop with football. I’ve learned how to fight for what you want watching athletes battle back from injury to finally see the field again. I’ve learned about taking risks from batters who swing on a full count, down by one with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. I’ve learned that sometimes the only reason you failed is that you stopped trying from soccer players who shoot the ball nine times and finally score the game-winning goal on their tenth shot. I’ve learned that the difference in life often comes from the smallest of things from games decided by one or two missed or made free throws. I’ve learned that belief in yourself can overcome some of life’s biggest challenges by watching golfers fight back from double-digit deficits to win a championship.
It’s easy to get lost in the scoreboard. Common to associate a team’s value with their win percentage or an athlete’s worth with their stat line. Those things are important. Don’t get me wrong. Those things are very important. But if that’s all you pay attention to, in my opinion, you’re missing the best parts.
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You can learn more character on the two-yard line than anywhere else in life.Paul Dietzel