Leave it all on the field

Michael - Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan
Entered on March 19, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: illness, sports

“Leave it all on the field,” anyone who has played Football has heard their coach speak these words.

I will never play in the NFL. Pending a medical breakthrough, I will never be 6’ 4”, 260 lbs. I will never run a 4.4- 40 yard dash. I will, however, continue to play football in High School.

People in my life have questioned why I play football. When asked why I continue to train year round for nine games a year I don’t really have an answer. The time and effort I have put into this sport is greater than that I have put into any other aspect of my life. Yet despite the hours and the sweat and the blood I give for football, I will never play past my senior year. I could be putting this time into something else, something with a life past high school. The struggle, emotionally, mentally, and physically, is worth it. Where a lesser man might look at the short time I have left to play and ask, “Why bother?” I see an opportunity. I make the most of everyday I have because I don’t take my body for granted.

At two years old I was diagnosed as Growth Hormone Deficient. This meant that without any treatment, the tallest I would ever be was five feet tall. However a new medical breakthrough had given me the opportunity to replace the growth hormone my body wasn’t making with a synthetic derivative. For the past 14 years I have been taking daily injections to maintain my natural height. I am happy being in the 50th percentile for my height because I know what the alternative could have been. Because of my deficiency I recognize how lucky I am.

I will never take for granted the things I have in this world. Not my body or my mind. That is why I continue to play football. Because every minute I spend sweating on that field- that field where so many before have played and so many after will play on- is a minute I know I might not have had. I live every minute on that field as though it were my last. Sports are a privilege.

When I look back on my life I want to know that I struggled because the struggle makes you a better person in the end. In short term is the same. When I play my last game of football, when I walk off the gridiron for the last time, I want to know I gave it my all.