A Losing Habit

A Losing Habit

“Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.” Joe Paterno always says it better than I can.

At this point it feels like the loss to Maryland hardly matters. Ok, it matters. It’s heartbreaking to lose by a point to bullies. I guess I could be glad that the player was suspended and the team fined, but I’m not really. I’m mostly sad that it’s even an issue. Anybody else find it interesting that both new Big Ten teams had to release public apologies? It’s like they got invited to the big kids party and have no idea how to act. Have I just been living in a bubble of basic respect for other teams in our conference? It’s pretty crazy that other teams think they can treat us so rudely, right?

I wondered if the poor behavior was a result of the tragedies in our recent history. It seems it gives a lot of people the courage to say whatever mean thing they want. My dad reminded me of the 1987 National Championship game against Miami. The players came off their plane in army fatigues and refused to shake hands, a complete embarrassment. I guess there will always be bullies. Maybe it’s just easier to deal with when they aren’t in the same conference. Also, when we beat those bullies on the field.

I have the urge to apologize to our players--I’m so sorry your college football experience is different than it was supposed to be, but we are all so proud of how you are handling it--because no one deserves that treatment, least of all our young team.

I don’t have it in me to debate the reasons for our current losing streak. Who should do what to fix what weakness. There are plenty of fans who will, but my eyes remain fixed the big picture.

In my world at least, the loss last weekend seems like old news. It feels like we have lost a lot this season. I can only say so many times that we are winning bigger battles, but we are. Our fight continues to be so much larger than the football field, so much bigger than these wins and losses. When they set out to break our football culture, this season is what they had in mind.

Another JoePa quote as we head into this weekend: You need to play with supreme confidence, or else you’ll lose again, and then losing becomes a habit.

We aren’t forming any losing habits here. This season is about holding the fort down in the deluge. This season is about building strength and character. It’s about rising above challenges. It’s about winning where it matters.