What We Can All Learn from Super Bowl XLIX

I love sports. And I REALLY love football. My first choice is college but I’m a Boston sports fan and have been rooting for the Patriots since I was old enough to toddle around my grandparent’s yard in South Boston. Needless to say, I’m thrilled (stunned?) with the outcome from Sunday. We had a ton of people over and it was a blast to watch the Patriots win again. As I’ve been reflecting on the game, two major themes emerged for me.

1. Coaches are human and by and large, believe in their athletes far more than the athlete does. In the last seconds of the game, Pete Carroll made the very questionable call (or his OC did) to throw the ball instead of run it a yard to the end zone. I’m not an NFL coach but that is a call I would never have made, just given the potential for a pick. I’m also not Pete Carroll and while I was watching an interview with him, it became very evident to me that to Coach Carroll, throwing it made all the sense in the world. Why? He trusted his players to get it done. When it didn’t work out, he took full responsibility for the error and accepted the immense criticism from “experts” all over the world. I had a similar situation at the State Meet this year, where I was forced to make a difficult call about who should run, what was fair and what our goals were for the season. Even before the meet, I took enormous flak for my decision. After the meet, however, was the worst I’ve ever felt as a coach, not because my call didn’t turn out as we’d expected, but because some athletes and parents were downright awful. I cried for a solid 24 hours when I finally got home and it took weeks for the sting of that to wear off, but from where I stand now, I’m happy I made the call that I did. As much as we like to try, coaching is not all science. There are general principles, of course, but you can never discount heart, soul, chance and rookies like Malcolm Butler.

2. It ain’t over til it’s over. I tell my athletes this ALL THE TIME but until it happens to them (either the Seahawks or Patriots direction), they never believe me. It’s this logic that led to the common coach refrain of “Don’t look back!!” and “all the way through the finish.” At a recent race, my top JV boy was in second coming into the final feet of a hill climb. He was solidly in second, but didn’t have a chance of catching first with the real estate left. At the bottom of a small downhill, however, 20 feet from the finish, the lead skier crashed and my skier sailed by to win the race. Last week, I watched another one of my skiers finish her drive 3 seconds too soon and barely get her binding across in time, a mistake that would have taken her from 3rd to 6th in less than the front of a ski binding. We could all use a remind, however, be it in the middle of a workout or the dark miles of the marathon, that nothing is over til we cross the finish line and by and large, competition is nothing if not unpredictable.

Bonus theme: Why were the commercials so darn sad? I teared up multiple times throughout the night and almost missed the outrageous GoDaddy commercials. I adored the #likeagirl commercial, however, and the explosion of women posting their #likeagirl photos across social media. Good stuff.

What struck you about the Super Bowl?

One thought on “What We Can All Learn from Super Bowl XLIX

  1. Ryan

    I wasn’t all that interested in this Super Bowl but was pulling for the Patriots mainly because I felt like the mess that Pete Carroll left at USC and the PED cloud that has hung over Seattle since his arrival should have been as big of a story as the Patriot’s transgressions (real and alleged). I was kind of surprised when it turned into an entertaining game.
    After following the Facebook outrage over the Nationwide commercial for a while, I asked my wife if I could take down our flat screen tv, lay it down on some discretely placed blocks on the floor, have our daughter crawl under it, then post a picture to Facebook with a caption along the lines of “Oh no! I guess we should have called Nationwide.” When she thought about it and laughed before saying no, I realized I had only missed out the chance by at most two drinks. Had I run out and picked up beer as soon as we got home from skiing instead of waiting an hour…

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