Over the years, football has played a major role in my life. I played organized football from 1959 through 1972 and over that period of time, I played in 113 football games (88 wins, 25 losses). Now, at 69 years of age, when I look back on it all and do the math, I realize that those 113 ‘Game Days’ represent less than one-half of one percent (0.00446) of my life. A very minute portion of my life and yet I am amazed how many times I have found myself reflecting back on life lessons I learned on the football field. More than just a game, football has been a life-long learning experience for me.
For the last 13 football seasons, I have had the privilege and honor of helping coach the Franklin College Football Team (NCAA, Div. III) in Franklin, IN. I love working with student-athletes at the college level and yes, I am still learning valuable life lessons being around the game of football. One of the many blessings of my involvement with Franklin College Football was getting to develop a very special friendship with the then Head Coach, Mike Leonard. Being a devout Christian, Coach Leonard made his faith very much a part of the FC football program and I learned many things from him despite the fact that he is 10 years younger than me. One of those life lessons Coach Leonard used to share with our players and coaching staff was this – “Let’s focus on what WE can control. Let’s Control the Controllables.” Could there be any better life lesson or advice for what we are currently living through?
Right now our lives have been turned upside-down by a pandemic none of us could have ever imagined. Meanwhile, our country continues to be plagued by social injustice and racial strife and we find ourselves dealing with a struggling economy crippled by the pandemic. Now, let’s add to this turmoil an upcoming Presidential election at a time when our country is as divided and polarized as we have ever been. And, if watching the 6 o’clock news isn’t nauseating enough, the political crap on social media is as bad as I have ever seen it. And really, why? How many people do you honestly think will change their minds about their political stance or who they will vote for based upon negative “social media” messaging? This takes me back to Coach Leonard’s football life lesson, “Let’s focus on what WE can control. Let’s control the controllables!”
Alright, so what can I control? Well, here are two that come to mind immediately.
1. ATTITUDE. Plain and simple, who I choose to be every day, how I choose to treat other people, how I go about my daily interactions with family, friends and yes, even total strangers, comes down to MY attitude. And guess what? MY attitude is something I control!
2. EFFORT. The effort I choose to put forth in everything I do is again, something I control. As a husband or wife, parent, responsible citizen and employee, it is up to me to make the ‘right choice’ as to what sort of effort I am going to put into everything I do! I need to take pride in whatever it is I do and put forth my very best effort every day. I control MY effort!
Last, remember this. We are blessed to be Americans. No, America isn’t perfect and it never will be. There will always be differing political opinions and there will always be the RED and the BLUE teams; those differences serve as the very hallmark of our democracy. But, at the end of the day, we need to remind ourselves that we ARE on the same team! On Election Day, you will get to vote however you choose to vote. Ah, another controllable! But, once you have cast your vote and leave your voting place, remember this – regardless of the election’s outcome, we are ALL Americans!
I am of the belief that more than ever before in our history, we need to be working together, reaching out to one another, finding the love, the compassion, all the good things each of us has inside us. Despite all of our differences, I believe our path to peace starts with a basic biblical teaching, “Love God, Love People.” Folks, we need to control the controllables because LIFE is a TEAM sport and in this life, EVERY day is GAME DAY!