Saturday, December 05, 2009

Football and the Meaning of Life: Gators Lose to Crimson Tide 32 - 13

Last year Alabama was supposed to beat Florida in the 2008 SEC title game.  Bama lost.  This year the two teams again faced off in the championship game and Florida was supposed to win handily.  Florida lost.

There is a kind of mental/spiritual/adrenaline force that plays unseen on the side of the underdog.  The underdog phenomenon has been witnessed in sports for decades.  The team that's supposed to lose has nothing to lose and everything to gain, so they go for broke.  They are thinking what if we win? while the favorite is thinking what if we lose?.  The subconscious takes both of these thoughts as a command and proceeds to act on it.

The underdog feels he has nothing to lose, the favorite fears he has everything to lose.  This fear causes hiccups in the favorite's mental machinery, and fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Voila, the underdog phenomenon!

The underdog feels passion more than fear and it works to his advantage.  A team or a man or a woman, if they have something to prove, will often do exactly that:  prove it.  That truism holds for more than football or sports, but for success in any endeavor.  Wounded pride can be a great spur to self improvement.  "I'll show 'em," our hero says through gritted teeth, and then proceeds to kick butt.

I was happy with the outcome of the SEC championship game for 2009, but I felt badly for Tim Tebow, Florida's celebrated quarterback.  The Gators lost today but there will be many future games and seasons.  Losing hurts, but if there were no possibility of loss, there would be no point to the game.

Losing can produce some deep thought, personal philosophy and self analysis, and I found a website, the Alligator Army, where the author expresses so well how it feels to lose something important.  He writes:
I was 11 when Tommie Frazier ran over Florida hearts, so Mark Ingram's 190 yards of offense and three touchdowns are the worst thing that has happened in my life as a Gator. Tonight's 32-13 loss by Florida to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game is the worst loss in Florida's history. Not because it's a blowout, or because Tim Tebow cried (Goddamn I did not want to see that), but because Florida's only accomplishment this season was a division title. 
There is no one to blame for today. When you play in a Championship Game, sometimes the other guy will just hit harder, get every bounce and call, and win. You can make the case for a lack of focus (Carlos Dunlap's mistake, the poor tackling, dropped passes), but these are 18-22 year olds. You can never expect a college athlete to be perfect. And that is perfect in the sense of actions, not record.
I feel sorry tonight for all the little boys and girls with number 15 jerseys, who are asking their parents why Florida lost today. It is a hard thing to watch your hero not come through. Tebow is still the best player in Florida history, Brandon Spikes is still the best linebacker, and Joe Haden is still a future pro. This was one night and it will hurt for a while. But it is still one night of many. In the eternal history of Florida Football, there will be epic wins and epic losses. There will be seasons that end with crystal balls, Outback steaks and coal. There are as many blades of grass on Florida Field as there have been days of Florida Football. Not all of those days will be good.
In the Spring, life will begin again with John Brantley. As for now, it all sucks. But the Dream will begin another day.
The article is called "The Dream Dies" and you can read the original at this link.

No comments: