When They Say, "It's Just A Game."

sports and leadership Mar 20, 2023
Sports and Leadership

October 1, 2021

This picture, snapped quickly from our Friday night game, speaks to me in more ways than I have words. But can we start with the incredible sunset? It's an amazing backdrop for a football game, that's for sure. For me, if there's a sunrise or a sunset involved, it's pretty much etched in my memory forever- but I'll be taking the pictures regardless!

My camera roll says alot about what's important in my life and what speaks to the deepest parts of who I am. The things I feel sure I'll never forget but oddly FB Timehops remind me- I do forget. So, always take the picture!

As I'm watching my 2 middle boys play their final football season together, it's been an emotional whirlwind for me in the stands. And truthfully it's probably a good time to be writing a book- it's fresh and I'm literally watching significant parts of their childhood come to an end (thank goodness we still have baseball season, I'm not in total panic just yet!). There's something in final moments that help me clarify thoughts and help as pages are turned and chapters close. 

I've listened to the band every game for years, this year maybe a bit closer. I've volunteered on game day, this year a bit more. I've taken in all the sites, sounds and watched the interactions between coaches and players, this year a bit more keenly. 

This field and all those who have coached my 3 boys over the past 10 years have made long lasting impacts. Right now, the magnitude of those impacts are seen and felt more significantly.

What I do know is this: It may look like just a game- and on paper, it is a 60 minute game with a  winner and a loser at the end. But those 100 yards sitting between the end zones have provided many opportunities for lifelong lessons and lifelong relationships. It's a place that's developed strength and leadership in my boys, determination finely tuned so they've learned how to never give up, a place to channel a drive to keep playing regardless of the scoreboard, and sportsmanship skills that show true character on and off the field (even when it takes all you have to keep your mouth shut!). The discipline learned here, spills over. The grit and focus practiced here, spills over. The ability to compete (mentally and physically) till the very last second, spills over. The humility needed to be coachable, spills over. The courage to get back up in front of all the fans and peers, spills over.

When I sit in the stands on Friday nights (that's now...I used to nervously walk the fence line), I don't see "just a game" being played. I see my boys playing out their real life; skills that will spill over into what's needed when they are 40...the medium is different, the cheering section will look much different, the teammates and opponents will likely be different as well, but I hope the backdrop is always just as colorful.

The "It's just a game" comments have never resonated with us. 

For my kids, there could be nothing farther from the truth- it's a 100 yard field of lessons and opportunities being played out in real life! And for those lessons, I'm incredibly thankful my boys have had the privilege to be a part of all these years.


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