LESSONS FROM LOSING

The sport of football is different from other sports in many different ways.  There is a certain physicality to it with life lessons that can’t be taught or attained anywhere else. It’s also worth noting that other sports can be played multiple times in a week giving teams the opportunity a quick turnaround to build on a win or come back from a loss. In football, you work all week towards the game and whether you win or lose, there’s another week of preparation for the next game.

The ultimate goal in football, just like in any sport, is to win, especially as you climb the ladder from the various levels of youth football to middle school to high school and so on. There are so many rewards that come with playing football including the highest of highs when you’re able to hoist a trophy at season’s end. But there are also lessons to be learned along the way with many of those coming with the pain of losing.

It’s easy to learn about the game when things are going well, whether it’s an individual performance or the team has success. You just continue to do what is working well and you hope that the positive results continue to pile up.

But what happens after a loss? How does a team or a player learn from defeat? You can ask any player, especially those who have played at the highest level of the sport, and they will tell you that some of the best lessons they have learned have come from a loss or a losing season.

Two seasons ago, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs lost the AFC Championship Game on their home field to the New England Patriots. It was a tough pill for them to swallow because on paper they were probably the better team. There were also many experts that thought it was their time…but it wasn’t. The loss didn’t knock them down but instead, it fueled their fire, and they ended up coming back to win the Super Bowl last season.

Sometimes, teams learn the lessons of what it takes to win, sometimes it takes a little more time, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen because it’s so hard in sports to get back to the point where you were the year before due to the competition being fierce. Not to sound a little corny, but there’s a great scene in the movie Rocky Balboa where Rocky is talking to his son and delivers an inspirational line that many sports teams play on jumbotrons to pump up the team and the crowd.

“You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

It’s just a line from the movie but the message there is so powerful, and football is a perfect example of how sometimes you have to get back on your feet, dust yourself off, and turn the page to the next chapter.

From a personal standpoint, I’ll always remember November 17th, 2014.  That day, Bradley and his teammates played on the road in the conference championship game. It was a cold and miserable day. The boys battled a really good team into double overtime. The overtime rules were supposed to mirror high school and college rules with alternating possessions. After the first overtime, the officials thought it was a sudden death and when the other team scored on its second possession, the game was ruled to be over.

There was so much confusion after the game, but the overwhelming memory of the day was the disappointment from all of the coaches and players of the painful result and the finality of the season. Bradley takes every loss very hard but as you can imagine he was really distraught that day. Bradley’s Uncle Larry was at the game and told Bradley while we all walked off the field that this is a tough life lesson and that his day will come to win a championship.

And he was right.

While Bradley had been part of a Super Bowl team a few years ago, he didn’t get a lot of playing time that season, so he wanted to be on a championship team while playing a big part. That happened three years later when a bunch of the players on that team who suffered that tough loss won it all. It took a little extra time, a lot of hard work, and some more tough results, but at the end of the day, there were lessons that were learned from losing.

The lessons learned from losing in football aren’t just year to year but also week to week. If a game doesn’t go your way, you go back to the drawing board, have a good week of practice, and correct the things that didn’t work out. The sport of football can be a spectrum of emotions at times so it’s all about keeping everything in perspective and battling through the tough times.

Losing stinks. Learning the lessons from losing and turning them into wins and championships is a great feeling.

Source: Blogs USA Football

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