Ah yes, another Sunday morning sipping on coffee with my chum Shaddow the Border Collie sleeping at my feet. It's dead quiet inside and out, bit of an overcast and you can smell a distant but early whiff of spring air outside. Couldn't be more relaxed except for that dang hamster doing wind-sprints on its wheel inside my skull. He's always working-out it seems, but I can't really hear him til things settle down "outside".
Well, today an old but seemingly repetitive shout-out from the past has been rattling around the ol' noggin. What the hec is the purpose of all this football stuff? Time, energy, and as one 19th century German philosopher used to mutter, "Sturm and Drang" (Storm and Stress) of it all. The easy reply is well...it's a hell of a lot of fun and the people involved are fun to be around. Further, there is a joy to the teamwork and a sense of accomplishment that is unique with each passing day, week, month and season. Still, why does it feel so immediate and important? Why does it occupy such a big chunk of life and at times feel all-encompassing?
The more a fella sits down and asks questions like this, the more answers appear. The more answers that present themselves, the more more questions that appear. And so it goes.
This state of affairs begs the question: Is there a core reason that compels one to have Football as a central fixture in one's life over the years and decades?
Hec, since I was first able to recognize football as football, it has reigned supreme. It has always been as much a part of me as my arms or legs ever since I can remember. Across all sports and certainly in Football people seem to say "Love of the Game" which seems to be the answer on a broad and popular level. It seems cliche, but really it is a simple way of explaining a broad and complex notion. To this child personally, a more specific and concrete answer has always seemed to be needed and so the inner conversation and back and forth has gone on. The questions and debate becoming more acute with age.
Sitting back and looking at a life lived to date, the question presents itself: Why? Why? Why? Could not all the energy and emotion go into making a buck or following other pursuits to their fullest conclusion? What is the price and purpose of this lifetime relationship with Football? What mark will it leave when I depart? What opportunities were missed along the way? What book was not written? What fortune not made? In the end, what was the purpose of it all and will the footprints of a football life be washed away like footprints on a sandy beach as the waves come in? Is it all pointless? Was I born to do bigger and better things but am missing the boat cus of ball? The answers to these types of questions can be profoundly disturbing.
Well shoot, these questions were raging one day and depression was fast setting in. I think I was mowing the lawn at the time. Why does football play such a big part in my life and am I missing my purpose or calling for a damn game?!! Then it happened, an idea or better put, an outlook crept into the debate. It went something like this: The world has a limited supply of Shakesphears, Ghandi's, Steven Kings, Beethovens Bill Gates, etc. types. and son, that just isn't your purpose in life. If there is a God (I don't have the answer to that, but pesky and persistent suspicions have always cropped up only to have terrific wrestling matches with my aethiestic and agnostic wrestling team,) maybe His purpose for me isn't that grand. Maybe, just maybe the purpose is to do some work at a a smaller level and maybe, just maybe, Football is the vehicle for doing that work first with myself and perhaps to help others do their own work.
Now I am going to say right now that I don't mean to be arrogent or messianic. That is sooo not me or what I am all about. I am just saying that a lot of things suddenly made sense and it brought a refreshing sense of purpose and meaning to life's experience to date. Ball seemed to be a lot more "worth-it". For a chunk of years now I have kept this experience close to the vest as I am a pretty private person when it comes to my personal life. Recent global events/trends have however, have conspired to give me the courage to share it.
Ok Gridiron, what the hec do you mean?
Well folks here goes: We are headed into some serious, serious tough economic times the likes of which havn't been seen since our grandparents and great grandparents went through the Depression in the 1930's. Maybe even worse in the short term. In fact, for a variety of reasons the challenges are going to be bigger and more complex this time round.
So thinking about the gathering clouds the old question showed-up again in a new set of clothes. What the hell are you doing engrossing yourself with this Football thing in times like these? Is your head in the sand? Gang, I quickly got the sense of being Nero playing his fiddle whle Rome burned all round him. This morning though, another answer equal to the task seemed to present itself:
I am going to paste the hyperlink that gives a little insight to my answer but am asking you not to click on to it until I tie this thing up; http://www.ted.com/talks/juan_enriquez_shares_mindboggling_new_science.html
The answer: Football is a vehicle for all sorts of good work for all of us who participate. I firmly believe that it is not the x's and o's, the hours of training on the field and in the weight room that counts. I totally believe that it is HOW YOU LEARN THE X'S AND O'S AND HOW YOU LEARN TO TRAIN AS AN INDIVIDUAL AND PART OF A TEAM THAT COUNTS! It is the moral choices about right and wrong, self-gratification versus extending beyond yourself that counts. It is "THE WAY", "THE ZEN OF THE GAME" that counts. Once we grasp these philosophies "we are equipped for life". If being a small part of transmitting such ideals is my lot in life then AWESOME! It is worth it. The winner's circle isn't what is going to count, the road to it is.
The link above is to a 17 minute video. It outlines two challenges that will effect this generation and the next one to come in a most significant way. Watching it, I was struck by how incredibly valuable the lessons of the football experience are going to be. In some sense, coaching and playing have never been more important.
This is saying a lot but the video I am sure will have you looking at where we are now economically and what is coming along with it. You may also come to the conclusion that we (our world and species) are going to need a generation of humans equipped to wield the power that is going to be in our hands with great wisdom and ethos. It seems that alot of what we all share and learn within our HS Football experience is going to transcend the game and help us in our collective lives ahead.
A leap perhaps....you make the call.