I only saw the last 35-minutes of the 2008 (professional American football) “Super Bowl”. As it turns out, that’s where most memorable action and drama took place. I haven’t really followed or cared about football since I played, started, and “lettered” as a Defensive End/Outside Linebacker in high school. Football was only one of several sports I played. My favorite sports at the time were probably a toss-up between basketball, track, and waterpolo. I haven’t kept up or even heard of some of the current professional teams now playing (football), let alone any of the players. But one football player made a very positive and lasting impression – and he wasn’t even in the game!
To be “social”, I accepted an invitation to watch (some of) this year’s “championship” game with a friend. I’m glad I did. Both teams played/performed extremely well under pressure – with only minutes left to win the game, as each scored near the very end. But what really impressed me was an “advertisement” (during a break in the action)…for the “dream” of playing for another professional football team I had never heard of (in Texas).
The ad featured two players: one recounting how he saw a guy bagging groceries at a supermarket and asking if he played football. He couldn’t believe the guy never had. He had to have played something; he was BIG! The second player shared that he played the oboe! He had to explain that it was a woodwind instrument. Encouraged to try out, the oboe player ended up in the professional football starting line-up as a “walk-on”. I loved the scenes of him being so sensitive and polite – even introducing himself, (“Hi, my name is Clarence”) – before/in between really hitting/sticking an opposing player so hard it got everyone’s attention and respect! It was kind of like parts of the movies “Forrest Gump”, “The Water Boy”, “Remember the Titans”, and “The Replacements” all rolled into one.
The ad ended with the first player remarking that Clarence is now “living a dream” he not only didn’t have, but didn’t even knew existed, until it was practically forced on him by the first player. “He was just bagging groceries”. Now he was in the Super Bowl – even if only in an ad (because his team didn’t make it). It almost made me want to watch more football. 😉 The game itself was pretty good – and I really liked the “underdog” winning.
Mainly though, I liked the “reminders” that many football players have other talents and that a LOT of people in the world do not even know how truly great they are or what they could do if they tried. It is often not until someone else recognizes their potential, brings it to their attention and encourages them to develop it. This has been the case for MANY highly successful people in almost every area of life. The message is (at least) two-fold:
First, do not judge people by their appearance, circumstances or situation – especially if you do not really know them! You have no idea who they are (or could become), who or what they know, or what (amazing) things they can do or offer – given the opportunity. Do not under- (or over-) estimate people. Treat everyone with respect. Expect (and perhaps even demand) the best from them. This is an especially good policy should you (later) discover that they are “better” than you (in one, or more, or possibly even all ways). People WILL remember how you treat(ed) them and how you made them feel.
So many people will surprise in one way, or another, that judging them will only get one, or both, of you in “trouble”. “Loose lips sink ships” applies to more than just “national security” and “success” in battle; you can often keep (potential) relationships “afloat” by keeping your mouth shut (and even mildly negative statements to yourself).
Slander and gossip are in many worse than battery or murder. You can’t take back anything said; the “wounds” and “scars” sometimes never heal. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words are what really hurt! Even when cleared of any (direct or implied) accusations of (suspected and usually unfounded) “wrong-doing”, “undesirability”, or “not being good enough”, the person’s reputation and how they are evaluated will be forever “damaged” and under scrutiny.
Working for several years in hospital emergency rooms, I have seen people at their worst. NOBODY (except maybe the staff?) would be there at all if they were having a really good day. The same is true for those in courts of law. Be very careful about (mis)judging others. YOU may end up as the “weakest link”, “outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed” and being “voted off” or “eliminated”.
Second, be on the lookout for “hidden” talent (all around you). Everyone and everything is a potential “asset” and “resource”! Sports are often used as metaphors for life. A book about the Oakland A’s baseball team, Money Ball, is a great example of how to rethink a game, make the best use of people’s “real” talents, and create a “winning” organization. If a baseball team can take players that others did not really appreciate and/or want, put them in different positions, look for and encourage them to express their unique/hidden talents, and create a team that can easily beat most of the others (at a fraction of the cost), there is no reason or excuse why all aspects of our society cannot do the same (or better)! Look for the BEST in others. Appreciate them: find (and help them increase) their value!
And if you like watching football (or television in general), try to find something of value in the advertising [that sponsors/pays for you to watch in the first place] besides what you can spend money on. The very best things in life aren’t things – and can’t be bought. If you want or have to pay something, PAY ATTENTION. Thank you for the gift of yours!!!
© 2008 – 2010, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.