4 teams, 2 playoff games, 2 incredible endings, 2 different outcomes, but 1 common theme: NEVER GIVE UP. Our mantra at The Distillery Inc. is “sports is a metaphor for life.” When you study sports and athletes, you are looking at a microcosm of each and every one of our worlds...for better or for worse. I think this is one of the reasons that we love sports so much. My partner Eira and I see ourselves in those moments of victory or defeat, challenge or synchronicity, that happen in every sport in every part of the world. Those moments help us make sense of our daily lives. I think is why Sunday’s NFL divisional playoff games sparked something in me about life that is clearly seen in sports all the time: it is important to NEVER GIVE UP.
In both games on Sunday, the teams had to persevere until the very last seconds to come from behind and have a shot at winning. In the Vikings vs. Saints game, both teams had to overcome significant deficits at different times. The Saints were behind by 17 points at the beginning of the second half, yet came back and took the lead with about 3 minutes remaining in the game. In those short 3 minutes, the teams traded field goals, leaving the Vikings 1 point behind with 25 seconds to go. Yes, I said only 25 seconds with the ball on their own 20-yard line! Impossible one might think! That doesn’t even seem like enough time to make it into field goal range, despite the very talented athletes on the field. 25 seconds…think about what 25 seconds are. Even with the ability to stop the clock, that really is not a lot of time. And, yet, somehow, without seemingly thinking about how impossible it was going to be to even get close, the Vikings strung together 4 plays that culminated with an often practiced, rarely executed, pass toward the sideline that inexplicably resulted in a touchdown with zero seconds remaining on the clock. Proving, without a shadow of a doubt, that one can NEVER GIVE UP!
In the Steelers vs. Jaguars game, the Steelers were down by two touchdowns with only about 5 minutes left to play. One wouldn’t even think it feasible to overcome that kind of insurmountable deficit, or to even get a chance to win, with such a small amount of time left. The Steelers struggled the whole game, at times down by as much as 21 points. Every time it looked like they were completely out of the game, they would rally until their deficit was ONLY 10 points with 1:45 to go in the game. NEVER GIVE UP…this sentiment must have been going through the players’ heads as they stepped out onto the field. Even though their outcome was not to be the same as the Vikings’, Pittsburgh managed another touchdown in that last minute, giving them at least a shot of tying or winning the game. NEVER GIVE UP.
This scenario plays out in sports all the time – teams fighting back against ostensibly overwhelming odds. Whether on to victory or not, athletes are trained from their early days to know, not just believe that they can win a game no matter how far behind they are or how little time is left. The actual outcome of the game is almost irrelevant, meaning a win is what they want but they know that it may not happen. It doesn’t matter what the outcome might be…NEVER GIVE UP. That mindset is what makes athletes unique and what provides the drama in sports that we all love to watch.
Can you imagine how that kind of mindset would play out in your life? If we lived by a certain number of innings or had a clock running with a certain amount of time on it, what choices would we make differently? Would we tap into and hone our natural skills to a higher level? Would we push ourselves harder in those moments when we are falling behind or be more comfortable being uncomfortable? Would we be more willing to let go of the outcome and be satisfied with just leaving everything out on the field? Would we be more excited at the prospect of having to come from behind? Would it be easier for us to never give up?
In a real way, and without being too morbid, we do live our lives against a clock, but we don’t always have the “two-minute” warning or a sense that you are in the bottom of the ninth to, perhaps, push us to elevate our “game.” I think that is the lesson I learned from watching football this weekend. We all have the opportunity, probably every day, to never give up on something that is happening in our world. If we take a cue from athletes and exercise our muscle of never giving up, of letting go of the end result and pushing onward no matter what, we might see our lives evolve in a completely different way.
So, get out there…channel your inner athlete, and NEVER GIVE UP! I’ll bet you will be happily surprised by the results.
By: Wendy Rosenthal