Football: A Meditation

In honor of Sunday’s Super Bowl, I’m going to jot down a list of things I’ve learned from watching football that seem broadly applicable to life and work, individual performance and team performance. Here goes . . .

To have a good day at work, you only need to average a few yards per carry.

Sometimes, you have to go for the big play. It’s helpful, in achieving the big play, if you’ve already done the work to give that big play a chance of succeeding.

The purpose of attempting a big play is not always what it seems. Yes, it’s great if it works; it’s great if your quarterback hits your lightning quick receiver with a 70-yard touchdown pass. But even if the big play doesn’t work, if you call the big play and try to execute it, it shows your team that you believe in them . . . and it shows the other team that you’re always capable of a break-out move.

With that said, desperation in the form a a “Hail Mary” is rarely rewarded. It’s fun to watch, but does it work?

It’s important to know whether you’re playing offense or defense. And, once you’ve sorted that out, it’s important to excel on both sides of the line.

Sometimes you have to punt.

A good coach or teammate can reset your attitude, helping you to do things that you don’t want to do but you know you need to do in order to win. (And, as a good coach or teammate, your job is to do the same resetting for others.)

In order to have a winning season, you have to stay healthy. You have to stay in the game, each game. And the same goes for your teammates.

Honor an honest competitor as fiercely as you abhor a cheat.

A trick play every now and again is a referendum on the deep and basic joy of the game itself. It’s important to keep that joy alive, for both the players and the fans.

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