Every Friday night in the fall sitting in the locker room, my football team listens to a recording. It is a recording of a coach talking to his team before a game. I do not know who the coach is but I would like to believe it is J.W. Chick Austin, a local legend and a former coach of my team. The recording is very inspirational and the Coach’s message is pretty simple “The game of football is just like the game of life, it is a game of inches.”
Now most football fans will tell you football is about beating the crap out of your opponent, even my lineman coach yells at us “C’mon now this is the only place in America where you can hit someone in the mouth without any consequences!” But I believe football can teach you a lot about life. It teaches you one of the most important life lessons one could ever learn and that is how to get up and keep going. You can ask anyone who has ever played football… your going to get knocked on your butt. And every good football coach will tell that the game is not over until the final buzzer has ringed. Tons of people can tell you stories of how in the forth quarter their team was down by ten with two minutes left, an impossible comeback, and then they come to win it in over time. So playing football teaches you go four quarters and never slow down. I’m sure if you ask any old-timer they will tell you go hard until the end.
The old football coach on the recording told my team that football is a team sport. He told us that the guy who is willing to sacrifice his life for that extra inch for his team will do it because he knows that when it comes down to it his teammate will do the same. Now some people might argue that football is not worth dying for, but it’s not just a sport it is your team. And everyone on a football team makes sacrifices for their team we practice from two to six every weekday and throughout the year our longest break is Christmas. By the time I am forty I will probably not be able to walk from the arthritis in my knee. I have had surgery and went through several months of painful knee rehab for my team. In the future I will be attending a leadership conference and one of the main topics they will be teaching me is teamwork an important element to succeed in this world. In football if one guy fails to do his job the whole play will be blown up. It happens all the time: one player can make a key block that will send his teammate to the house. What better way to learn teamwork than a competitive sport.
Another lesson that the coach on the recording teaches us is football like life is a game of inches. “One second too early you just miss it one second to late you don’t quite catch it. One step to slow or fast you won’t quite get it. Fighting with every scrap of muscle in your body for that one inch is what it takes…That’s football gentleman.” In life one second to late you lose your love, one second to early you won’t get the job. Do your best and go a hundred and twenty percent in life just like football teaches you and you will succeed in both.
In High School, especially in mine, we don’t play the sport for money, the scholarships, the girls, or the privileges. (In our school the only privilege is sacrifice of your time your body and your heart.) We play because we all genuinely love this game and we know it is much more than a game, its life.
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