Why Might They "Hate" Us
|Why Might They "Hate" Us|
As I pen this article I realize that the convergence of several factors gives me a pretty good advantage in regards to my thinking about this. The first factor is I am not a member of the "me" generation. They call me Ol' School for a reason....I am almost 48 years old. This is semi-significant because I played youth sports at a time when good sportsmanship really did matter. Another factor is I never actually played on a team that won more than 4 games prior to 2010. I knew that I had the heart of a champion but I seemed destined to forever play on losing teams. I know how to lose with class which makes it relatively easy to handle winning. The final reason is I was past the age of "playing at your age doesn't make sense" when I started playing minor-league professional football. Since I didn't play football in college my last year playing real football was the fall of 1980. That means a quarter of a century had passed prior to me starting my minor-league professional career in 2005 at the age of 41.75 years old. That's important because my level of family responsibility was already at premium heights.
In the 1940 NFL Championship game the Chicago Bears beat the Washington Redskins 73 - 0 in the most one-sided victory ever in the history of the NFL. Scores like that would be even more rare today because it is deemed unsportsmanlike to "run-up" the score like that.
In 2010 the Indiana Generals barely beat the Battlecreek Blaze 51 - 14 to win the IFL Championship. I say barely because the game felt much closer and we seemed to be fighting to find ourselves. With very little time left on the clock we called a timeout. While that seemed normal to me a referree standing in the secondary asked me if we were serious? I told him that we intended no disrespect to the Blaze. What we did intend was to play for 60 minutes and we owed it to our families to play our style of football until the final whistle. I still think of the Blaze as a good team. Our team was truly great because we never let the scoreboard tell us how well we played. We wanted to play our best and felt that anything less was failure. It is why we would run sprints after several victories.
Unsportsmanlike conduct starts with coaches who subject players to easy practices. See, you weren't going to put on the Generals' uniform because you wanted to hold onto fond memories of the laughter you recalled having as a high school baller as you socialized with your teammates. Coach Terhune made it clear that he wasn't running a social club or a ranch for football's rejects. No, his practices separated the wheat from the chaff. During one of our practices something happened that hadn't happened since, well, ever! I took my helmet off because of fatigue. If you wanted to verify that I never allow a lack of oxygen to cause me to take off my helmet ask of anyone who has ever played with me two things that you'd never really see. If they were paying attention they would say they never saw me voluntarily take off my helmet and they never heard me use profanity (not for religious reasons as I am a Christian but not religious!) But for every practice like this I grew more excited at the prospects of winning because I knew I was being pushed to a place I had never been.
In 2010 we had a game scheduled against one team that brought me very close to using profanity. After being on a bus for 3 hours we arrived at the game's venue only to be told we couldn't play the game because of poor field conditions. After considering how much I wanted to play the game I started counting the cost of not doing so. I had paid $40 to have my daughter watched for the day. Some of my teammates were saying they had taken off from work or switched work rotations so they could play in the game. And since our players actually came to practice I fully understood why a riot would ensue if we didn't play the game. Fortunately, we did end up playing the game.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 19 October 2011 17:30)