Winners or Losers?
Thinking about winners and losers reminds me of a game I played as a kid. I remember the game vividly, but I'm still not sure whether we won or lost. I was a freshman in a small high school playing on the junior varsity. That should tell you something, since we only had 24 players on the whole football team and none of the starters could play JV. So, I was one of the 13 boys on the bus to go play a JV game against Clinton, a larger rival school. I think they dressed about 35 boys for the game.
As you can imagine, with only 13 players, we all got plenty of playing time. I was in on everything except the kickoff team, and we only did that once, to start the game. As you might anticipate, things did not go well for us. I remember coach yelling a lot, I remember looking at the scoreboard wishing it would wind down faster, and I remember a couple of times when a play was over, lying on my back looking up at the blue sky and thinking what a nice day it was. At halftime the score was 35-0, and we huddled in the visitor's (the girl's) locker room, pretty dazed and discouraged.
Coach stuck his head in the door and gave us this brief and direct halftime speech: "Excuse me, girls, but if you play like that the second half, you're going to get beat 70 to nothing." Then he was gone. We just sat there mulling that over. 70 to nothing. That didn't sound good. Not good at all. One of our sophomores, a lightweight linebacker named Barrett, finally lit the fire. "Wait a minute! Nobody beats us 70 to nothing! C'mon, you #!#!#!#!, let's get out there and kill those !#!#!#!#! Let's go!"
We came charging back out on the field pounding on each other, banging our helmets together like a bunch of crazed animals. I'm sure Coach was impressed with the difference a little humiliation could make in his pitiful team. And we played our hearts out that second half. We really did play as hard and as well as we could.
And when the final whistle blew and the game was over, we all looked at that scoreboard and cheered as loud as we could. The final score: 43-0. That's right. Nobody beats us 70 to nothing! We were slapping and fiving like we had just won the conference championship. It was a rowdy locker room and noisy bus ride home that night. I'm guessing that in hindsight, our coach probably wished he had aimed a little higher with his team's expectations. He didn't seem to celebrate with the same enthusiasm we had.
So, were we winners or losers? 43-0 indicates a pretty clear answer, but it still felt great. It still felt great to get up and fight back, to stand up and give it our best shot, just to keep playing and hustling and hitting until it was done. We were all pretty proud of the beating we took, at least that second half. I've been on the winning side of some games I can't even remember. But standing up to the big guys, taking your lumps and giving it your best shot - that always stays with us, doesn't it?
Have you got a Goliath on your schedule, a big bully in your own backyard? Listen to coach and don't go down without a fight.