Football is an unpredictable sport. If you don’t believe me just ask Joe Theismann. Football provides edge-of-your-seat action but if you pay attention it can also teach you some valuable life lessons.
1. You need talent and heart to win anything
Sometimes being good just isn’t good enough. You can be talented at something and have that natural ability but if you don’t care and you have no motivation or heart, you’ll never amount to anything. Just ask any of these teams.
2. It can all end in an instant
Nothing personifies this more than the aforementioned Joe Theismann. A two-time Pro Bowler with what was amounting to a Hall of Fame career. Then one unlucky day, Lawrence Taylor shattered his leg and ended his career. Thanks to a small stroke of bad luck, Theismann lost his ability to play professional football and it’s a reminder to appreciate what you have because it can be gone in an instant.
3. If at first you don’t succeed, try again
Only one team can win the Super Bowl every year and that means everybody else has to deal with defeat. Do they quit? No, they figure out what went wrong, try to fix it, and try again the next year. This is a great lesson to learn because failure is just a temporary problem.
4. If you try hard enough, you can achieve anything
There are countless players who have stories that personify this but as a Cleveland Browns fan, nothing hit this lesson home for me more than when Cleveland lost the Browns. After the move to Baltimore, the city of Cleveland wanted their team back so bad that eventually the NFL gave it back to them. That includes the original name and colors. It was a touching reunion that showed us that if you want it bad enough and you try hard enough, then it’ll eventually happen.
5. Winning requires teamwork
From day one in peewee football to the NFL, football players learn one lesson above all else. You win as a team and you lose as a team. In real life, it’s the same way. If you can’t work well with others or you try to do everything alone, you’ll eventually fail. You need to trust your team and everyone needs to do their jobs in order for everyone to be successful.
6. You can’t win all the time
There is no football team that has never lost. The New England Patriots won 18 consecutive games in 2011 but lost the Super Bowl. No matter how good you are, you will eventually lose at something and you should be prepared for that. No one wins all the time so it’s best to adjust your expectations accordingly.
7. You need to have discipline
Football players must have discipline. When you play football you have to work out every day to maintain your athleticism. That also means you have to watch what you eat and drink and you’re accountable for your mistakes because if you screw up, it’ll be all over the news. In real life it’s much the same. You have to stay disciplined with your exercise and diet or you’ll become unhealthy. When you mess up at home or at work, you’re accountable for it. If you don’t stay disciplined, bad things happen. Just ask Ohio State.
8. Learning how to set goals
Football players have pretty lofty goals. Making millions of dollars a year, winning one of the most coveted events in all of sports in the Super Bowl, and having a good career are among the many goals that professional football players set every year. Thousands of college players have the goal of making it to the NFL. Tens of thousands of high school football players have the goal of making it to play college ball. Pretty much from day one when a kid decides he wants to play football, the goal setting starts and it never really ends. We can learn from that kind of ambition.
9. Nothing lasts forever
Brett Favre recently tried to deny this very lesson for years but ultimately even he had to throw in the towel eventually. Great players rise, they fall, they retire and it makes room for the next wave of superstars. Winning streams come to an end and successful dynasties will eventually drop to the bottom of the standings. This teaches us to enjoy the highs while we can because the roller coaster of life will eventually even things out. Watching a player’s career is like an abbreviated version of the circle of life. It’s always sad to see an icon retire or a long-time successful team hit rock bottom but it’s important to remember the good times and realize that this happens to everyone eventually.
10. Your job depends on the performance of others and the other’s jobs depend on your performance
This may be an extension of the teamwork lesson but it this lesson applies to everyone. If the players don’t play well, the coaches are to blame. If the coaches can’t motivate their players, the GM has to hire another one. If the GM makes decisions that don’t pan out, the owners replace him. It doesn’t matter who you are on a football team, someone’s job depends on you. In real life it’s the same way. Your boss needs you to work to stay hired. His boss needs him to work hard to stay hired. If a regional manager has a lot of locations and none of them are performing well, the regional manager gets fired. Thus, even the most seemingly insignificant piece may have a measurable impact on someone else’s job. After all, you can have the best QB in the game but if he doesn’t have wide receivers, he’s useless.
11. It absolutely matters who wins and who loses
Winners succeed and losers do not. In football, winners get paid more money. They appear in places like the Hall of Fame. They have Super Bowl rings. Losers do not have those things. At it’s very core, football is a competition and life is no different. Even if it’s not quantifiable, there is a score being kept all the time in the game of life. Telling kids that score doesn’t matter is like telling kids that money doesn’t matter. They can’t pay bills with good intentions and they can’t succeed if they don’t know what losing feels like.
A lot of people don’t like football. They consider it barbaric and they believe that the fan base around it insane. However, there is no denying that when you analyze the emotions and decisions behind the game itself, you can learn some of the most important life lessons from football.
Featured photo credit: Knowledge Hi via knowledgehi.com