It’s taken a few days to write this, but hats off to the New York Giants. From the the very beginning, they didn’t let the Patriots get comfortable, and their dominance was only momentarily in doubt. It was a cold ending to a decent (but not great) football season that was tinged by the lockout, but as a Patriots’ fan, I’m proud of my team for making it to the Super Bowl. But would everyone believe? Would everyone want to be there… and walk away as second best?
Apparently not. Radio sports talk shows and websites have run polls, and my Eagles loving buddy told me Sunday night, that some fans would rather know they were out of contention halfway through the season than lose in the last ten seconds of the championship. Maybe there’s too much David (as in David versus Goliath) in me, but I say, no way! I’d rather be “in it to win it” even if there’s a chance I might lose: that’s why I’m playing or cheering in the first place! If we can’t be rightthere on the cusp of losing, then why would winning matter?
That’s why free will matters so much. If we were automatons, steered by preset controls or pulled and pushed by puppet strings, then our success wouldn’t matter. No matter what we did, failure or success, we would merely be the end result of someone’s (or something’s) decisions. We/us/I, the individual(s), would cease to exist and merely be a part of the flow of time, gravity, or inertia. But instead, we’re imbued with the power to choose, to be great or small, to win or lose. Some decisions end better than others, but that’s “why we play the game.” The ball goes up, the whistle blows, and our lives rush forward to succeed, fail, fall, get up, live, and die. It’s the beauty of the game, and the beauty of life.
Thankfully, I write this in the “afterglow” of a great, come-from-behind victory by my “other” team, the Duke Blue Devils, over their hated rivals, the Carolina Tarheels. It’s the best rivalry in college basketball, maybe even in all of sports [Ed.’s note: go to bed, that’s a column for another day]. But as low as Sunday night was, Wednesday night is equally as high: it’s the beauty of sports, and this thing we call life. To succeed, we must first fail; to live, we must first die; to rise, we must first experience falling.
Thanks be to God, we won’t be losers forever.