Don’t Lose Hope
My sophomore year in college at Trinity University (a division 3 school), we were getting ready to play Azusa Pacific (a division 2 school). We were suiting up in the locker room when our coach came in to give the go get ‘em speech. We all sat down and listened to what can only be described as the worst pregame speech that has ever been given. It started off with “now we all know that they’re stronger, faster, bigger, and meaner than us.” We did all know that (especially the meaner part… those guys were jerks), but it didn’t quite get the adrenaline pumping. It continued “they may beat us 9 out of 10 times, well hell who am I kidding, they’d probably beat us 10 out of 10 times, they’re way better than us.” I remember looking around the locker room at all the guys. We were shell shocked, but it didn’t stop there. “They’re a division 2 team which means they give scholarships, they are deeper than us at every position. We can’t turn the ball over, we can’t commit penalties, because it doesn’t really matter what we do, they’re way better.” Unfortunately, I’m not joking (my memory may have exaggerated that speech over the years, but it’s pretty darn close). Keep in mind Trinity at that time was in the midst of 15 conference championships in 17 seasons, so we didn’t lose a lot. After the rousing speech, we ran out to the field, fought hard, played tough, and lost 49-14. I remember not being disappointed because we had expected to lose after all. I never wanted to feel that way again. Somehow the sting of losing beat the apathy toward losing.
This is a growing trend in our culture, especially with football fans. We expect our team to lose, so we build that up to where we won’t be disappointed when we lose. The problem is, you’re supposed to be disappointed when you lose. Not a psychotic, breaking things in your house disappointed, but a healthy disappointment. The bottom line is, it’s cheating. It isn’t fair to celebrate a win without facing the potential of sadness after a lost. It also makes a win much less enjoyable. When we hope in something, sports related or not, we invest a little of ourselves in it, and if it doesn’t work out, it hurts. You have to put skin in the game, or else there isn’t a point of watching or playing. In an attempt to get rid of the pain, we’ve only numbed it. It’s still there we just refuse to let it teach us its lesson. This boils over into everyday life. I’ve heard it said that football is a microcosm of society. I know that analogy doesn’t stand up completely, but in this scenario it works. In football, like in life, you have to hope for things, sometimes things unlikely. You have to invest yourself in things, even when you don’t for sure know the outcome, especially when you don’t for sure know the outcome.
Prior to playing at Trinity, when I played football at Dulles High School, we were awful. I was the quarterback, and I threw a lot of interceptions… so many interceptions. I threw 20 interceptions in 10 games to be exact. We lost 8 out of the 10 games we played. By about the fourth game, we lost hope in our season. That loss of hope seeped into our practices, film sessions, weight lifting, and even schoolwork (if you want to know what that looks like, see the 2013 Houston Texans). Apathy struck our locker room, and it destroyed us. I remember fully expecting to lose almost every game we played. It was awful. Unfortunately, I’ve seen apathy strike in many more important places. Losing hope in football sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. Losing hope in life though, or in a relationship is the worst. Let’s be people who hope for things. Let’s be people who believe in the unlikely, and let’s not be those people just so we can say, “I told you so.” Hope is contagious. When we believe things can happen, we act like they can happen. When a bunch of people act like things can happen, things do happen. Let’s do it, because it’s really fun to watch. Don’t lose hope in football, or in life. Having something to believe in makes all the difference.