Thursday, September 15, 2016
Life as Football
A few weeks ago I came home to a pale look on my hubby’s face (beautiful ebony skin not withstanding) The Philadelphia Eagles had surreptitiously traded their #1 quarterback! I was totally surprised, and instantly more juiced about the season than I had been to date. Plus, I had to try to console my guy. We talked and came up with possible scenarios. He concurred with most of my thinking, and a curious look crossed his face, one that I’ve seen before: “You’re not bad at this. You get it.”
Honestly, I’m not particularly knowledgeable about any team other than the Eagles and still mostly green on the sport itself, despite being a Philly girl since the age of 10 and Eric’s wife since the age of 20. But I’ve lived through it all, “Silver Linings” style (for those who’ve seen the movie). About 7 years ago, I decided to take the plunge – and go all the way in. I love it. It’s good for my balance-no work during football. It’s good for my marriage. Beautiful artistry, crazy, serious strategy and heart pumping fun. Good stuff.
But I’m sure the reason I “get” it is because the rules that govern football are a lot like the rules that (should) govern life. And, I believe if we remembered and applied them more, we would be better off. Hey I know: the obscene salaries, choreographed, chattel system dictated by big business, and a chauvinistic attitude towards women and too many other people and issues suck. This is where the business of football has been able to move in our capitalistic society. But it’s not the game.
· There are plans A, B, C, D and E (and a Hail Mary in the back pocket). You expect that on any given Sunday, Monday or Thursday, you may need any or all of them. So you prepare and then work your plan(s).
· You have to dress up and show up. If you want a victory, you have to suit up and report in. And it’s not about just showing up; you have to get on the field and get banged up.
· You have to show value to keep your space. Unlike life, football does not deal in long probations or drawn out scenarios. It’s not a matter of what you think you are worth or can add given time. Space is precious; you may be loved, but it doesn’t mean you keep yours. Also, if you don’t win, you don’t stay. And everyone knows the deal.
· The big picture is the bigger picture. Even teams that are hurting physically and emotionally roll in and try to operate as a single organism for 3 hours. The bigger picture of accomplishment is the one that draws them. The few that can’t see the bigger picture usually weed themselves – or get weeded - out quickly.
· You have to use the mind and the heart. The play designs are scientific and intense. Learning them requires skills – of many players who I would totally bet have trouble with other technical learning. But because of their passion, they learn the plays with the rest of the team. After they use their minds to learn them, it’s their hearts that pump hope and possibility into the play.
· The folks in charge come from the ranks of those they lead. Football is not a field to be seduced by “shiny” new stars and wishful and academic thinking. Experience is required. Relevance is expected. Credibility is achieved.
· It’s a long game. The move of the Eagles signaled that for this year at least, we weren’t going for titles and other glory. This blunt, focused call said that we’ll take at least until 2017 to reshuffle the deck and figure things out. Yes, live in the moment, but don’t forget the time.
· The winners get love for the right reasons. Everyone witnesses the winners emerge through grit, hard work, and pain and commitment. You’re not being asked to endorse or accept based on others’ determination. The winners gain our respect and regard -- the best two pillars for lasting love that I have ever seen.
· They have coordinated colors. Everyone, from the players, the field, and the fans dress up in comradery. You dress up and you declare who you are for and how you choose to be received. This is called a “brand” and I’m only recently realizing its power and import.
· It’s inclusive. The game brings together one of the most eclectic and diverse crowds this nation ever sees.
· It’s something to look forward to. You know the days and times that you get the opportunity to participate. You know what to expect – with an expectancy to be open for the unexpected. You plan for this time and are explicit about the pleasure you expect to derive.
Works for me, but gotta go. Life’s about to kick off.
Lesley Grady has spent 30 years working to develop and strengthen communities. In those years, her personal, professional and civic activities have allowed her to connect with diverse groups and perspectives to better understand how to create positive change and solutions to community needs.