Thursday, September 27, 2007

More...Why Football Is Important

Lessons about teamwork. You can learn important lessons about success in life from observing what succeeds in football. Coaches and players talk all the time about “team chemistry,” but it’s easy to spot the teams that have true chemistry versus those who just talk a good game. There’s a sense that they can overcome any adversity or bad break. Teams without that chemistry tend to splinter apart when they hit a bad stretch in the season. Watching your favorite team successfully deal with adversity can teach you valuable lessons you can apply in your own life and career. For instance, it seldom works to march into your boss’ office and demand to be traded to another company.

Turning total strangers into instant friends. Suppose you are out shopping, wearing your Packers sweatshirt and hat of course, and you encounter other people wearing the green and gold. You would have no problem saluting them with GO PACK GO! And they will undoubtedly respond in kind. You might even strike up a conversation about the upcoming game or the team’s prospects for the season. Contrast this cheerful camaraderie with just walking up to a random stranger and trying to strike up a conversation. They’ll probably run away or summon store security.

A boost of energy to get us through Monday. Think for a moment how different you feel at work on Monday morning after the Packers have won the game the day before. The challenges you face seem somehow less daunting, the co-workers who are normally unbearable seem less obnoxious. Then think of occasions where the Packers lost a playoff game the day before and you show up at the office grumpy and snappish. In such instances, I’ve found it’s more humane to your co-workers if you just call in sick.

A tree house for grown-ups. Human beings have a need to belong to a group, a tribe. And satisfying this need involves finding a tribe that fits your personality. Football addresses this need. And in true American free enterprise spirit, we have freedom of choice: 32 tribes to choose from. There are significant differences among the tribes. In California, for example, contrast the mellow, happy San Diego Chargers fans versus the permanent Halloween that is Raider Nation. Just go to any popular sports bar that has enough TVs to show a number of games at once, and observe how fans of a given team naturally cluster together—just like Neanderthal man seeking out a familiar, safe cave.

Good triumphs over evil. There’s something cathartic about watching a ferocious protagonist/antagonist battle, especially one where they are evenly matched and the outcome is in doubt. This has been true since the ancient Greeks staged the first dramas, right down to modern times and Hollywood movies, Westerns in particular. Look at the frequently used term to describe Brett Favre: gunslinger. He’s simply a modern-day “Shane,” the rare individual with the courage to stand up to any and all bad guys, and save the town—in Brett’s case 150 times thus far. One important difference though is that in the film Shane, the bad guy (Jack Palance) didn’t dress in purple. Somehow, that wouldn’t have been as menacing.

There are many other reasons of course why football is such an important part of our lives, of the very rhythm of our existence. I’ve always liked how F. Scott Fitzgerald expressed this in a wonderful short story he wrote about college football, The Bowl:

“All that is childish? Find us something to fill the niche of victory.”

1 comment:

bob said...

Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.

Good Luck!