Charlie Brown ain't got nothin' on me. In case you don't remember each fall everyone's favorite blockhead would firmly resolve to kick the football held by his arch tormentor Lucy. Every year, she would promise this year she would hold the ball for him to kick, Good Ol' Charlie Brown would protest, but eventually she'd convince him and he'd run with all his might to kick that ball. And for over 40 years, each and every time, Lucy would yank the ball send poor Charlie Brown straight to his back.
We might feel badly for Charlie Brown, or we might consider him a fool. Why on Earth would he keep trying to kick the ball? Or we might admire his steadfastness.
Charlie Brown's football experience reminds me of mine. My football team was bad. Our practices and games were exercises in futility. During my 6 years playing with this team, never did we have more than one win in a season. On the rare occasions where we were ahead near the end of the game we would self destruct. Now if this was a Disney movie we would have at least come together as a team, but we had no unity, we fought amongst ourselves more that the other team, however one teammate did tell me how hot my mother was. Our coaches on more than one occasion would come to practice under the influence Captain Morgan and the glory days. Uncle Rico was Joe Namath compared to these clowns. (note these were my little league coaches, in high school the coaches were better but we were a lost cause.)
Now why did I stay with it; I'm not sure at first, but over time I came to love football. But for me winning was almost a lost cause. That happens to a kid after records of 1-9 year after year. I must have been a glutton for punishment; coming back year after year, losing so much; being a alone with teammates I couldn't identify with.
I can to realize pretty early in life that it sucks sometimes. But you can't control the outside influences, all you can control is yourself. Are you doing what you're supposed to be doing? I was the center. I had two jobs; first hike the ball, pretty easily, secondly keep the nose guard or linebacker from getting to the quarterback. Any you know what I found great satisfaction from knocking the defense on their cans. The joy of seeing a blitzing line backer, pretending you're going to hit him high, then at the last minute hitting the shins and sending them sprawling to the ground. Or the sweetness of holding a guy 5 inches taller and 50 lbs heavier than you off from getting the quarterback on a pass rush for an entire game.
Now it was hard work to become a lineman. I remember late nights with my dad and older brother doing board drills, outlawed for use in actual practice because of the danger of injury, these drills were key to learning how to get lower. I remember when my older bro got me put up on varsity as a sophomore and it was hard going against people two years older than me, but that year is when I gained the skill that would carry me to my senior year.
By the time I got to my senior year, only three kids my age had stuck with it, everyone else had quit, dropped out of school, or was incarcerated. The year below us has some great talent and I wondered if this year we'd finally win a little, maybe even break .500. The first game of the year we lost to our cross town rival in a somewhat close game. That stunk but coming up next we played the team ranked #2 in the state. And we beat them. Man we were high on the hog, especially we seniors who had never really had success. We started to dream of possible winning our conference, and getting a berth in the state tournament. But we lost the next game, and the next and the next and the next. We lost every other game that year. My final chance to have success. But you know what, as much as it hurt to lose all those games, for my team to experience the same futility as Charlie Brown did with Lucy, after each loss I was able to look back, know I was knocking my guy on his can; I was keeping my quarterback safe; and I could block any defender in the conference. In fact I was named to one of the all district teams, a pretty good accomplishment for a guy that plays a position no one pays attention to on a 1 and 9 team.
I believe that sports teaches you lessons you need for life, and I learned some with football. While most people learn how hard work brings wins, and the importance of working with teammates for a common goal, I learned that when adversity comes that you can't control, you just focus on doing your job the best you can and let everything else work itself out. And you know what, that is one of the key things I've need to know in life.