Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nine Life Lessons from Football

1.  Hit back, and hit back hard.  Sometimes life seems to be staring us in the face from inches away, ready to knock us down.  You can't run away, you just have to hit back with all your might.

2.  Teamwork.  I've watched these boys play together for the past three years. I've watched their disjointed efforts at the beginning morph into passes and rushes and plays and tackles and fumbles, working together like a band of brothers by the end of the season.  They learn what it's like to depend on a friend to do a job so that they will be safe doing theirs.  They learn quick forgiveness when a mistake is made, and they learn to celebrate together when a brother succeeds.

This photo makes Ben look short--Ben is six feet tall, so you can imagine how big Coach is.
3.  Good coaching makes a difference. Ben has been blessed to be coached by men who realize that football isn't all about the game. Football turns boys into men, teaching them the benefits of hard work, pushing their personal limits, accepting their limitations, living with loss, and winning with grace.  Good coaches know that it isn't about the number of wins and losses at the end of the day.  They know it's all about lessons learned the hard way and through hours of working together. I will always be indebted to these men who sacrificed their time to teach my son lessons he will take with him after he graduates and throughout the rest of his life.

4.  It isn't all about you.  Some days you're on your game, and some days you aren't.  Sometimes you get called to be the hero and score the winning touchdown, and sometimes you're benched. Ben started his football career playing the minimum number of plays and sitting the bench the rest of the game.  This rough introduction to the game gave Ben perspective and also forced him to work hard for what he wanted--to play the game.

5.  Leadership.  As one of the team captains, Ben takes his responsibility to lead the team seriously.  He knows the players look to him for direction on the field and on the sidelines. He leads without force or fear or anger, taking his direction from how his coaches treat him.

Do you see me? 
6.  Mom will cheer you on, no matter how bad your game is.  One thing I look forward to is when the game is over and the fans are allowed onto the field. Ben always has players and fans (mostly cute girls) around him, congratulating or commiserating with him, but I see his eyes searching the crowd until he sees me, and then he heads over to give me a big, sweaty, super stinky, football player hug.  I get to hear play-by-play commentary, laugh with him, and occasionally share a few tears.  I love watching him do something he loves, and I love that he wants to share it with his mama.

7.  Pay it forward.  Not too long ago, Ben was one of these younger boys, eagerly handing out water and spare balls to the big boys, trying to be cool and hoping one of the real players would acknowledge him.  Now that he's one of the big guys, Ben will stand in the middle of the younger guys and talk with them about the previous play, his padded shoulders towering over their hopeful heads.  As I watch senior-year Ben, I remember seventh-grade Ben sitting on the bench, and I know he remembers seventh-grade Ben as well.

8.  Playing beside your best friend is truly the best.  Ben and McKay have played on the same teams ever since eighth grade--Pop Warner, junior high, and all through high school.  This last game on Saturday will be the end of an era. I may shed a tear or two.  I may have already shed a few . . .

9.  Football is a game; football isn't life.  As good as Ben has become and as great as it's been to watch him play, Ben knows that football is just a game.  He is unhappy when they lose and ecstatic when they win, but he knows life will move on and that he gave the game everything he had while he had the chance.

It's been a great ride, my son.  Thank you for all your hard work and all you've taught me the last seven seasons.  I will be in the stands Saturday, proudly wearing a #5 on my chest and a smile on my face, no matter what the final score is.

If you like football . . .

Then you like that.


  1. I can't imagine how hard it will be when I'm done with the boys last high school football game...As much as I whine and complain, there is nothing as exciting as high school football!

  2. Sometimes I wish I could travel back and explain to my young mom self all the lessons kids can learn from sports, I think I would make some different choices.....great post.

  3. I love how Ben has such a commanding way about him but, in such a loving way. People just want to be a part of whatever it is that he is doing. Good thing he makes such great choices! I so wish that we could be there on Saturday!!! Go Heroes!!!

  4. I love how Ben has such a commanding way about him but, in such a loving way. People just want to be a part of whatever it is that he is doing. Good thing he makes such great choices! I so wish that we could be there on Saturday!!! Go Heroes!!!

  5. I just shed a few tears along with you. The older I get, the closer my tears are to the surface, somehow.

    Of course, the fact that your post is nostalgic and inspirational at once might have something to do with my waterworks, too!