Big Ten play is always exciting. You never know what is going to happen, even against Indiana. We opened with an amazing drive— everything I’d hoped we’d finally learned to do. Then things went sour and it looked like we’d lose. And then it looked like we’d win! And then we got forced into overtime. And we got a touchdown! But so did they! Then we all watched the two-point conversion replay 800 times and had very strong opinions about it but...
Anyway, we lost.
Last night I was thinking maybe it was time for me to admit that Franklin doesn't cut it. He makes too much money to lose like that. He mismanaged the game again. Same story, different year. Our players are making too many mistakes. Targeting? Come on. Showing off for the cameras? Just, no. It seems the post-game consensus is bad coaching and poor playing.
It’s hard not to get sucked into the post-game vitriol, especially with so much other worldwide nonsense stressing us. Losing seems easier when we can point a finger at somebody.
As I scrolled along I came across a wise comment that suggested we all “be still, let our young men reflect and regroup and we’ll see how this COVID season goes.”
I definitely need to reflect and regroup and relax and see how this season goes. Maybe you do too?
I explained to my seven year old that it’s very difficult for some people when the team they love loses. And this is what he said, “I’m fine with it. It’s not the end of the world. But that doesn’t mean it’s very fun. Even if it isn’t the end of the world.” ...That moment when your child handles life better than most adults.
This morning I woke up and remembered that in the end it's just a game. I woke up happy for Indiana, the team who hasn’t beat us in six years. The Hoosiers will remember this exciting win for a long time, just like we remember our exciting wins of the past. We are not that different; we are two teams doing what we think is best in this moment in time. I woke up glad for the potential wake up call to our own team, that just because we are ranked 8th and just because we always beat Indiana, doesn't mean we will today. We have to play better. We have to play cleaner. We have to earn the win.
I woke up this morning questioning if my perspective is skewed. Why do I believe my team should win every game? Why do I think Franklin could or should do better? Why do I focus on the mistakes and the loss instead of the exciting competition that occurred? Why is it about the final score instead of the contest?
I woke up this morning wondering if maybe it's time we learn to enjoy sports for what they are: recreation; physical activity engaged in for pleasure; an athletic game; a diversion; a pastime.
What if we recognized that when we find ourselves saying things like “Clifford sucks” and “Franklin is garbage” we pause for a second to check in with ourselves. Maybe there are a lot of things stressing us right now and maybe we can avoid channeling our rage towards others. Maybe we can say, wow, I’m really upset that my team lost today because I really, really just wanted something to be happy about, something that was easy, something that didn’t remind me that I’m already angry about the state of the world or the situation I’m in or the stress I have to return to when the game ends.
Losing stinks, especially when we feel like our coaches and players could have done better. It’s frustrating. It’s not fun. But, like my son reminded me, it's also not the end of the world.
We’ve lost before and we’ll lose again. It’s hackneyed but true— you win some, you lose some.
Congratulations to you, Indiana. You deserved to win. Maybe we’ll get you next time, but now we must turn our attention to Ohio State.
Ohio State on Halloween night. A full moon. Daylight Savings time. 2020. I can’t even begin to guess what next Saturday will bring. Get ready, Nittany Lions.