Every day during every week throughout the football season, we the fans of your team deal with our own lives.
The work Zoom calls, the corporate bureaucracies, and the deadline pressures. The boss needs something done right away and it’s going to take a whole lot of our brain power to get it done. And when you submit it, there’s no guarantee the boss will like it. Often we fall short, but we have to try again and again.
Fall down. Get up. Life.
We deal with low-performance reviews, criticisms of our work, and uncertainty about our standing with our organizations. Some of us, as we get older especially, are told by our employers our services are no longer needed. We get to let go. On the street, in a sense, we fend for ourselves, find some other way to make money so we can pay our mortgages, provide food for our families, and save for retirement.
Our parents get older and go into nursing homes, and that’s sad. And it’s even sadder when they pass away and are no longer with us. There’s so much finality when that happens that it’s almost unbearable to seriously think about especially knowing we’re headed to the same finish line.
Our children grow up, leave our homes, start their own lives, and we feel ourselves moving a bit slower. When we wake in the morning, our bodies are a little sorer. When we go to the doctors, they seem to find more problems with our health, more unsettling things.
Our lives are in many ways repetitive and often difficult and we wonder where our lives have gone as we blow through middle age and enter a more somber phase.
Then there are you guys, the Wake Forest football players. We go over to Truist Stadium and wait with genuine anticipation for your two team buses to pull up by the curb in front of the stadium. You get out in your black Wake Forest pre-game sweatsuits. The cheerleaders line up on both sides of the entrance sidewalk as you all come marching through as the band plays the Wake Forest fight song. We see you, young men between the ages of 18 and 24, as the drums beat.
We cheer and snap pictures as you arrive at the venue where, in less than two hours, you’ll take the field and play a major college football game in full-on pageantry of color, music, and dancing by kids and adults in the stands hoping to get seen on the jumbotron.
You guys take us away from the grind of our daily lives that are the essence of adulthood, life after college filled with real-life struggles. We get to focus on you guys and forget about ourselves and all we’ve been grinding through during the week leading up to Saturday’s game.
The grind of the phone calls, the family issues, the doctors, the worries about how we’re going to pay all the bills, and smooth over the interpersonal tensions that arise at work and home. You are the guys we turn to for hope and a moment of simple joy and exhilaration, so we can feel more alive and not so concerned about the seriousness of our daily routines that go on for several decades.
It’s you we focus on, you guys, you young football players, you our Wake Forest football team. You work hard all week also, preparing for each game with alert mental discipline and physical exertion. You get ready to show us how well you’ve prepared. You take us into your worlds and relieve us of the thoughts of our own challenging lives. You dazzle us with your catches of the football, your tackles, running around with purpose, with the goal of winning.
We sit in the stands and lose ourselves in the thrills of watching you play a football game, all of you. It’s a respite, an oasis, a relief, a pleasure, a bonus. It’s what makes life better. We love to see young men striving to do what they do as well as they can so when we go back to work Monday morning we can think of the discipline and skill you displayed for us as a motivation to do the same in our daily lives at work and as parents and as children of our parents.
You take us away on a weekly one-day vacation to the equivalent of a beach trip or a day in Disneyworld.
You, A.T. Perry, and you, Sean Maginn, and you, Justice Ellison, and you, Rondell Bothroyd, and you, Ryan Smenda. To all the seniors who played their last game last night at Truist Field, we thank you.
We appreciate you. You may not realize just how important you have been in lifting the emotions of the people in the stands, the Wake Forest alumni who keep coming to watch you play because you give us joy and relaxation and make our lives much more enjoyable.
But it’s not just enjoyment. It’s much deeper than that. You give us the belief that our lives have meaning and there is something to look forward to that stirs our souls on Saturdays: you guys, playing football.
Yesterday you bounced back from three straight losses and beat Syracuse. You could have quit and not put forth a big effort yesterday after the emotionally rocky three weeks. But you didn’t.
You deserve thanks for reminding us to never give up – no matter how rough our lives get – and for reminding us that it’s great to be alive.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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