Faith and Football

Sahana - Barrington, Illinois
Entered on May 12, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that faith and optimism breed acceptance.

I am seventeen years old. I am Indian-American. I am female. I am nearsighted. I am a lot of things, but when autumn rolls around, there is only one way that I can define myself. I am a Bears fan. It is a distinction that, truthfully, brings with it a fair amount of heartache. More often than not, I hover anxiously at the edge of the sofa only to see my team give up another game. I cling to silly superstitions to explain their losses; Dallas only won because I wore my unlucky jersey, we just lost to the Vikings because I went and showered during halftime. Friends and family alike have tried to convince me that the Bears are a lost cause. “They haven’t won a Super Bowl in your lifetime,” they tell me, exasperated when my only reply is a defiant “But they’ve been to one.” The one person in my family with the capacity to understand my stubborn loyalty to a football team is the last person I would ever have imagined.

My mother seems to hate sports; she tries to sneak away with the remote during games, and if that doesn’t work, she avoids the living room altogether. Nonetheless, she is the one to lift my spirits after every loss. As I try to erase images of turnovers, fumbles, and bad fouls from my brain, she always tells me to have faith. If anyone understands the idea of faith, it’s my mother.

When I was a toddler, my maternal grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I was barely cognizant of his affliction; I was too enthralled by his strong voice singing in Sanskrit to notice his shaking hands in his lap. My mother and her siblings, however – I can barely imagine what it must have been like for them. As a child, I had a talent for eavesdropping, and I once overheard a conversation between some of my cousins near the end of my grandfather’s life. One was sobbing, saying that her father had told her to get ready for the imminent loss. Another one, presumably trying to comfort her, said that it was probably for the best that we all knew what was going to happen. This confused me. My mom had told me that everything was going to be okay; normally, okay did not result in sobs and somber whispers.

When my grandfather passed on, I was blindsided. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t really even understand what was happening. My lack of reaction was compensated through the outpouring of emotion from the rest of my family. What sticks out the most from that day is something my mother said. One of my cousins’ sobs had begun to border the hysterical; my mom took her aside to comfort her and when she quieted a bit, my mom said, “At least he lived much longer than the doctors thought he would.”

Through her faith, my mother was able to see at least some good in a terrible situation. She has taught me that if I psych myself out for a disappointment, I will always be disappointed, even if there is something good, no matter how small, in the outcome. But if I have faith that good things will happen, I allow myself to see the good in any situation. This is the importance of faith. Cynicism only brings discontent, but faith breeds gratitude and acceptance. Disappointments are what ruts are made of, but acceptance is the express lane that lets people move on with their lives.

So faith makes me feel better about myself and others, and it improves my quality of life? I’ll take it. After all, I had faith in the Bears this past season and while, let’s face it, we didn’t even make it to the playoffs, at least we beat Green Bay in December.