– What I learned from the game.

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I played High School football from 1968-1971 in a little town in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. Our team, the Wyoming Cowboys, had a winning tradition for as long as I can remember. We won numerous championships over the years and were always considered a contender even against much larger schools. In 1962, we had a team who not only went undefeated, but didn’t allow a single point to be scored by their opponents, racking up a record of 446-0 points. Baseball, basketball, and track were all well represented, but football was king, not just then but now as well. This year, the team went 10-0 to win the league championship and play in the Ohio state playoffs.

Wyoming is the type of small closeknit community where everyone attends the Friday night game. Beyond that, they have a loyal set of alumni who follows the games over the Internet. In preparation for the league championship this year, alumni sent best wishes from around the USA, two from Africa, and one from Europe. Yes, they take it rather seriously.

As the team prepared to enter the state tournament, I drew upon my past and penned the following piece. I sent it to the Wyoming coach who read it to the team before the tournament game. I tried to capture the feeling we had back in 1971 when we won our championship. Hopefully, some of you who played high school football will appreciate what I’m describing. Hope you enjoy it.

“LOVE THE GAME” – by Tim Bryce

It’s not the championship that matters or the record, it’s how you play the game.

It’s not the school that matters or the coaches and spectators, it’s about your band of brothers.

You play football for the love of the game.

It’s a game where people of all sizes, shapes, and talents each play an important role, not as a group of individuals, but as a cohesive unit, a team.

It’s not the accolades or criticisms afterwards that matter either.

You play to watch a teammate dash to daylight, to perhaps punch a hole in the line allowing him to slip through.

You play to watch a ball spiral through the air to find its target.

You play to demonstrate some sleight of hand in a trick play, or to watch a punt returned for a touchdown.

You play to watch the steamy breaths of the linemen in the trenches on a cold wet night, to listen to their growl and pain as they try to move heaven and earth for a teammate.

You play to watch a defense-man penetrate the line and sack an opposing player behind the line of scrimmage, or to cause and recover a fumble when it was desperately needed, or to intercept and return a pass.

You play to make a goal line stand and stop the opposing team cold, or if you are on offense, to find a way to punch the ball through.

You appreciate the simple things of the game, such as a solid block, a straight kick, the crisp snap of the ball, a perfect throw, the smell of the field, a good tackle, and speed afoot.

You play to watch it all come together in unison, like a fine jeweled watch.

You find joy in picking up a teammate, both physically and spiritually; to stand at the end of a game mired in sweat and mud, proud of your team and the small role you played.

After all, this is a game of teamwork, not one for those seeking individual glory, an important lesson that will follow you through life.

So play the game hard, without regrets, so you can hold your head up at the end of the game knowing you gave it your best.

Play it with reckless abandon, for the day will come when it will be over, and you will miss it dearly.

Love it and it will teach you some important lessons of life, such as pride, self-esteem, the power of tradition in winning, empathy for others, and to put aside differences and find ways to cooperate.

Play it in such as way that when you finally hang up your cleats for the last time, you know you accomplished something meaningful.

And when it is over, you do not need accolades or a trophy or ring to remind you of the job you’ve done, just a pat on the back simply saying, “Well done.”

Football is a great game. Love it.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

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