the zen of football

another guest contribution from my good husband, glenn:

Besides liking babies, and smoking, I also watch the occasional football game.

Okay, maybe more than occasional.

Actually, my Sundays between September and December, from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening (when I get called away to dinner) are dedicated primarily to watching NFL football. And sometimes Monday nights as well, though over the past few years the Monday night games have not always been worth watching.

After last season, I have to admit it; I’m a Seattle Seahawks fan. Even though having a favourite team can interfere with my picks in the company football pool, I’ve been a fan ever since I started following the NFL while a student in Bellingham and the days of Zorn to Largent, and Krieg to Largent.

I do other things while I watch, which is one of the reasons why I like to watch the games by myself. I also appreciate the freedom to make whatever noise and comments I feel like making. My family knows when good or bad plays happen by the sounds escaping from my room.

In many ways football seems to be all about about strength, aggression, testosterone, but there are more subtle aspects as well. The quote below is interesting, and follows Seattle’s emotional win over their division rivals, the St. Louis Rams.

The quote is from Ryan Plackemeier, who is the guy who sets the ball on the ground for the field goal kicker Josh Brown to kick.

Field goals are like baseball plays in that they take less than 5 seconds to happen, but often they are the last play at the end of the game, and they may decide who wins and who loses the entire game. It can be a very high pressure, instinctive situation. Earlier in the game, Seattle missed a 35 yard field goal attempt, but made 2 others from 49 yards each. Then, on the final play of the game, Brown was good on a 54 yard attempt to win the game for Seattle.

But it wasn’t the field goal the Seahawks missed that defined this game nearly as much as the way they responded to it. In the locker room afterward, Plackemeier recalled something Brown said to him Thursday.

They were driving to get coffee because the rest of the team was in meetings with position coaches. A car pulled out unexpectedly in front of them, but Brown remained calm.

“He said, ‘I practice not reacting to bad things around me,’ ” Plackemeier said. “I thought that was pretty interesting. He said, ‘If I’m getting upset about a car pulling out in front of me, when I miss a field goal in a game, you never know what was going to happen.’ ”

The results of that rationale were apparent when the Seahawks missed one short field-goal attempt, then made three longer ones.

Interesting comment, from a 4 year veteran (with years of college and high school experience) to the rookie who assists him. He practices not reacting to bad things in his daily life, so that when the pressure is on during a game and one bad thing happens, it doesn’t affect his ability to execute the next time, particularly when the next time may be even more crucial.

So imagine if the field goal kicker on your team is an excitable person, one who gets sky high when good things happen, but who also sees the sky as falling when something bad happens. He misses a short field goal, and he gets down, or angry, or frustrated. Then, half an hour later, there is a more important, more difficult field goal to try. Do you like your chances better with this guy, or with someone like Josh Brown?

Emotions are human traits and need to be experienced as a part of being human. Reactions are natural too, but can be trained to not overwhelm us needlessly, if we practice every opportunity we get.

Imagine what you might accomplish if you found an instinctual reaction that you have but don’t want, one that you feel lowers your enjoyment of life, or of people, or of your favourite game. Then you broaden your definition of that reaction to see where else it appears in similar situations, and you practice not letting it control you whenever it occurs in your day, like Josh does.

Seems a little zen to me, but what do I know. Sounds like a good plan though.

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