When the completion of March Madness comes the same day as opening day for the Red Sox, it is a happy day for this sports fan. My only question is whether or not I should be embarrassed or proud that on my NCAA bracket I picked the correct winner, but all the movies I picked for the Meow Madness Christmas movie match up on Hallmark Channel dropped out in the Sweet Sixteen. I'm going with proud.
After the Superbowl, I read a post that said "Calm down people. It's only a football game". Clearly, not a football fan, especially a Patriots or Falcons fan. But it made me think. Obviously, it means a great deal to those of us who are fans. It made me wonder about why that is.
I suppose I could reply, would you say it's only music, when waiting to attend the concert of your favorite performer or band? Or is only a movie? There are a lot of things we rally around that really have very little true connection to our lives, yet they become very important to us; our favorite stars, players, teams, performers and books. We are willing to part with large amounts of money to partake in them.
Why? I'm sure there are plenty of psychological studies that state scientific reasons, but I'm just going to go with my own experiences. To me they offer hope and escape. When I get wrapped up in a game or a movie, or book, for that period of time my regular life and its struggles fade to the background. For those few hours, I am the heroine, or the star. A little part of me throws the pass or catches it as I will it to go where in want it to. When they will, I win. Their victory is my victory. I also believe that my fierce support, fandom and cheering really does go out into the universe and makes a difference. Don’t judge me…
And when you watch a team (or show) long enough, you learn about its players, not just on the field, but off. The haters stop at the surface, but have you seen the charitable work they do tirelessly? The strong family commitments that they value? How about their work ethic? There is often a lot beneath the headlines if you care to look. But most don't.
There are lots of lessons to be learned. Movies can inspire us. Even the movie without a happy ending usually has a lesson to teach. Something the writer is trying to tell us. Music can inspire, comfort, and encourages us. In sports the victories excite us! But what about when our teams don't win? In the losses there are messages of perseverance and learning from mistakes; correcting them and working harder to improve. Those are great examples to copy. There are many messages to learn within the games. Take this very special Superbowl victory I am still celebrating. We were down 25 points. It was unheard of to come back from that far down. But you know what? It wasn’t impossible. We did not give up. Not a bit. They kept pushing and fighting, until they won.
I love that. But what I love more is that when I was tempted to give up on them, I didn't. I admit I was almost ready to admit defeat. But I stopped myself. Just because it hadn't been done before didn't mean it couldn't happen. These diseases, my transverse myelitis and the multiple sclerosis aren't giving up. If I am to beat them, I can't either. It really is a mindset. The kind of thinking that gives up would have killed much of the advances in technology and medicine we now take for granted, were we to give into it.
Sports (books, movies and music) can all be things that touch our souls and inspire us, not only in their victories, but in the effort in takes to get to their place of honor. K. Anders Ericsson determined it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in your field. And not hours doing just anything, but hours of deliberate practice that focus on specific skills.
So many aspects of our lives can be applied to the 10,000 hours concept. This is something we can take into our own lives, regardless if we ever become or desire to be famous. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons we believe that with age (usually) comes wisdom. We’ve been at it long enough to hopefully be getting better in at least some areas. It is also reassuring to know that it is OK to not be a pro yet. We may be somewhere in the middle of those 10,000 hours.
I admit there were times when I put in hours upon hours at school and at home when I was teaching and would look at my meager bank account and think really?! I’d read about some athlete complaining about their multi-million dollar contract, and I’d get mad. I still get annoyed with the focus and money many school districts place on their athletic programs when arts and academic programs suffer. Still, I love my pro sports, just like I enjoy my favorite musicians, movies and books. They give me a way to escape. Rooting for them reminds me to root for myself. When they overcome adversity to succeed, I am reminded that I can too.
So, pull out your banners. Get lost in the book, music or movie. And think about the 10,000 hours it took to get there. And then continue your own diligent practice to mastery. So far I’m at 2880 at dealing with my new life. I’m on my way!
Kristen is a former kindergarten and special education teacher with two wonderful grown children, two precious fur-baby dogs and a mischievous cat. Diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis in September of 2016 and Multiple Sclerosis in December of 2016, and Optic Neuritis in January 2017, life has changed in a big way in a short amount of time. But HOPE springs eternal as she rediscovers and reinvents life along the way.