Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Small Gains from Losing Big

I traveled to Dallas, Texas only to see the Irish lay an egg against the Clemson Tigers in the 2018 Cotton Bowl. I had high hopes going into the BCS semi-final playoff game; I held financial ones too! I thought ND could win, or at the very least cover the spread. Although we were tied at the end of the first quarter, Notre Dame did not score again. We lost 30-3. I returned home licking my wounds and did my best to make sense of it all. I wrote Magic, Mystery and Misery: The 2018 Cotton Bowl to help process the season ending game in light of what really was a great season. I read tweets from former and current players. I sought input from Brian Kelly and John Heisler about what went right and what went wrong. With a little time and space, humility and gratitude I discovered that once again, defeat doesn't have the final word or the last laugh. No, even when we lose big, we can still have small gains. Here's how...

Time, money and effort
Attending a collegiate football game is not an inexpensive venture. Add in a flight, ground transportation and the increased cost of a ticket that goes with the descriptor: bowl game and your paycheck has seen its better days. Given the time, money and effort—and I don't mean this with a cavalier bone in my body—one must ask: Is it worth it? And, knowing the outcome, would you do it again? 


The anticipation and excitement for the game was awesome. I loved the hype and I enjoy holding the nervous energy. Having and holding something at stake isn't a given. Bring it.
As an alum, you never know who you will see or with whom you can and will meet up. I stayed with my good friend Erin and her family. I caught up with my beloved former housemate, Joy. I watched the game with my football partner-in-crime, Steve. 

From Book's P.O.V. it was a great year!
Furthermore, it's not just who you see but where you see the game from that adds value. This became abundantly clear as I enjoyed watching the Cowboys vs Seahawks playoff game that much more, as I had just visited. I had a keen interest in visiting AT&T Stadium—a venue not short on monikers. The House that Jerry Built, Jerry's World, Cowboys' Stadium lived up all I had heard and imagined. The outcome had no bearing on the vision I now have as a result to going to the Cotton Bowl.

PerspetiveI felt like a different person late Monday night, come Tuesday morning. A weight had been lifted. My spirits were no longer sore. To see Clemson defeat Alabama by 28 points, put the Irish loss in a new light. Reading the final score: Clemson 44, Alabama 16 didn't change the outcome of the Cotton Bowl and Irish hopes for a National Championship remain (for now) out of our reach, but Team 130, a group that I had defended and supported all season wasn't a farce or a fraud. Even pundits praised the Irish defense. They were worth the applause beyond 12-0. 

We gain perspective in many different ways: time, distance, age, experience, and more. Watching the orange and purple confetti rain upon Levi's Stadium offered a welcome one. A fresh perspective, especially after a loss is a good thing. 

One couldn't talk about the National Championship game without eventually discussing the talent, poise and precision of Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. Given that Lawrence is ineligible for the NFL draft for at least two more seasons, my friend Connor said "I'm already worried about ND playing Clemson in 2020." If that projection doesn't speak to his talent, no much else will.

While Lawrence's long-term success has yet to be seen, for now his post-season performance bears reflecting upon. A singular quality that stands out to me is his unflappability. I have used that word time and again to describe the true freshman QB and PGA golfer Dustin Johnson; it's a unique virtue. 

Further reflection upon the example set by #16 is the question: To what degree is it necessary for a quarterback to be unflappable? In Catholic Ethics, Andrew Peach writes "Sports writers did not create rules for becoming a great quarterback out of thin air; they observed quarterbacks in action and, then, described the traits these athletes had in common." How many are unflappable? I can name a few.

I'm not sure I would know or care about the talent of Trevor Lawrence were it not for the Cotton Bowl—>National Championship. I do however want my students and my athletes to consider the quality of being unflappable. I hope they can gain from what I ...and many others have now seen.
thank you, Team 130
In my life, I have had experiences where I won...but really, I lost. Other times, I have lost but it sure felt like a win. The Cotton Bowl was a loss for the Fighting Irish on the field, but the gains from the 2018 season, remaining loyal, striving for excellence and having fun aren't small gains, they're big ones, too.

Photo Credits
Trevor Lawrence
Clemson locking arms

No comments:

Post a Comment