This time of year in Nebraska, and probably every where else, conversations always seem to turn to football. I like the game just as much as the next guy. I will sometimes listen to the sports nightly shows. If I’m busy on a Saturday, I have a friend text me updates from the Husker game. I am now at an age where I have friends whose sons play high school football so I kinda try to keep up with that too.
Now as much as I like the game, I often times think we put to much emphasis on sports in our society. If you don’t read this post all the way to the end, at the conclusion I still think we place to much emphasis on sports. Thing is, I had a conversation with a buddy of mine recently that made me take pause and reexamine that stance.
My friend and I are on opposite ends of the athletic spectrum. He had talent and ability, I had none. So our stories differ.
I’ll start with my experience. My sophomore and junior years in high school I didn’t get to play much at all. I was in a cast both years before school started so I missed out on most all the season, due to healing and rehab. I went to all the practices, and games. Watched it all from the sidelines, while wanting to play, regretting what happened to me to keep me on the sidelines.
My senior year I was healthy, and in good shape. I loved it. Everything from the conditioning and especially the hitting. One big problem though. I was kind of a small kid, so the underclassmen were about the same size as me, had just as much experience, and were a bit more athletic. When the season started I got to start on offense and the underclassmen got to start on defense, and we alternated series on either side of the ball. Our team sucked, I’m not sure if we even won a game that year, so the underclassman got more playing time. I didn’t like it, it sucked. But hey, it’s a fact of life
A few games into the season, at a home game no less, they introduced the starting D. I got to stand there as all my classmates ran on the field when their name was announced. I got to stand there when the sophomore that I was sharing time with got to run on the field when his name was announced as well. Things changed in that game. Some time during the first half I was playing both ways. During the second half I never got pulled off the field.
Being from a small town I know how things are. After the game I took my time leaving the locker room that night, to let the other kids bug out. I went into coach’s office and asked him if the only reason I was playing was because I was a senior. He told me I was the only player who gave him 100 during practice and 100 during the games, no matter how bad we were getting our ass whooped. He pointed out that during the games I miss a few of my assignments, but I never stopped. If your jersey wasn’t the same color as mine, I was gonna hit you
What I heard was I would never spend another second on the sideline the rest of the year. All I had to do was give 100 every day. No matter how much I hurt, how tired I was, or how many times I was gonna puke, 100% every time meant 0% on the sidelines.
My buddy went on to play college ball at a small college. He had some success there. One summer he was home. He’d been working out at the high school gym like a Beast. Never in his life had he been bigger or stronger. He was also working physical labor jobs, in the summer heat. He, like any other kid from Nebraska had a dream of playing for the Huskers. His plan was to try to be a Walk On. I never knew that was the goal until just recently. Here is the disgusting part. He told some of the local fucktards his goal. They made fun of him constantly. They told him all the reasons he couldn’t accomplish it. Like any of them had a clue. Problem is, he listened to them. All those hours of sweat and pain in the gym, eating the right foods, out the window.
He told me just about every time he sees the Husker tunnel walk he puts his head in his hands and tears up. He will never ever never, know if he could have made it. You shoulda heard the pain, the regret, in his voice
Him and I learned quite a bit from the grid iron.
Giving 100 has its rewards. Nobody regrets doing their best
Quitting lasts forever