'Tis the (pre)Season

No comments

Finally, things get interesting.  Not all things, certainly.  But, it's finally that time of year that involves a wonderful season unblemished by Hallmark cards or gifting expectations.  It's THE season for sports fans, as the doldrums of summer baseball finally yield to the good stuff.

As a Clemson alumni, I have no other choice but to pull for my team.  There have been consistent reasons to want to pull for other teams (most notably, success), but I didn't attend whichever schools are ranked in the Top 5 year to year.  I'm pretty much stuck with them, and I'm not unhappy about it.  The wonderful thing about August is that, so far, we're undefeated.  Certainly every team can say the same, but in terms of the opening of football practice, a "win" occurs each day a key player doesn't get hurt.Dabo Swinney (photo by PATRICK COLLARD/The Greenville News)

My favorite Clemson sports site, The Tigernet, does an exceptional of job of linking to related articles, adding original content, and hosting discussion boards.  There is much excitement about the competition for the starting quarterback job as well as a lot of interest in Head Coach Dabo (short for "dat boy" as termed by his older brother when he was a toddler)  Swinney as he heads into his first full season.  Will the offense be aggressive (for a change)? Will the team be able to adapt to the novel idea of a halftime adjustment?  Will the 4 Star recruit visiting the campus commit?  Yeah, baby!

But the signs of this are not limited to Division 1-A.  Sports talk radio finally has something to talk about, whether it be top rankings, conference analysis, NFL camps, player holdouts or any other (often inane) subject related to that special time of year.

And certainly, there are other signs of the season.  Teenagers suddenly show up jogging along the streets as their own football preparations begin.  High School Booster Club signs get replaced with the current football schedule.  Students who choose to provide some of the atmosphere of a game begin the sweltering days of marching in band formations on blistering pavement.

It's change.  To those who pay attention, it's as visible as the leaves turning colors entering into autumn.  It's not as exciting as attending a game in the cool November air or even watching a game on (HD)TV.  But the storylines are already developing for our fascination for the unscripted nature of competition.

An ex-high school coach mentioned a few months back that as a coach, he could not motivate his players.  He could only put them in a position to motivate themselves.  He told this story:

There were 500 ants who built a glorious ant hill and were resting comfortably within. Suddenly, a golf ball came to rest on top.  As they considered this unexpected turn of events, a golfer swung at the ball taking out half of the ant hill (and half the ants) but leaving the ball untouched on the top. 

The ants were coming to terms with the suddenness of what had transpired, when the golf club again swept through the ant hill, destroying the mound and leaving only the golf ball and two surviving ants.

One ant asked the other, "What should we do?"

The other answered, "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm getting on the ball."

There is no meaning in sports from a results oriented basis.  Scores, winning percentages, player statistics, etc. feed spreadsheets for future reference.  But they don't mean anything.  This is not to say that there are not lessons involved, but some see only the data and miss the message.  Like the ants, they don't look for the challenges and rewards that come moment by moment.  And for the same reason, sports fans usually have difficulty watching a recorded game for which they already know the score.  When the outcome is known, the game is viewed dispassionately.

But watching a game is much more than that.  If we understand the practice involved, the mental toughness to adapt to difficulty, the teamwork necessary to achieve, the combating schemes of offensive and defensive coordinators, the fluctuating nature of self-confidence, the demand to execute a plan, and the emotional ebbs and flows, we do learn about ourselves, whether participants or fans. 

Sports fans know this and relish it for what it is.  And a whole new season awaits. Personally, it would also be nice to celebrate a few more wins...

No comments :

Post a Comment