My Super Bowl XL Lesson

The Seahawks came into Super Bowl XL riding a tidal wave of enthusiasm. After starting the season 2-2, then winning 11 straight games, the Seattle mania was not to be contained. This amazing team just cinched their first Super Bowl appearance in their 30-year history.

Even if you weren’t a huge football fan in the Pacific Northwest, you couldn’t ignore the distinctive blue and green team colors streaming from windows, cars, flag poles, and painted bodies.  On Game Day, like millions of others, I flipped the remote to watch the game. Yet, I was in a place I had never imagined being on Super Bowl Sunday—my dad’s hospital room.

He’d been critically ill for nearly a month, and I had been traveling back and forth to Tucson to be with him. A bigger sports fan I had never known. My father knew stats and all the teams, and while he admittedly preferred college football, he’d followed the Seahawks since their inception. Now his team had made it.

As we watched the game, I realized that he wasn’t really following it. I tried to give him my own play by play. Then there were those awful, highly disputed calls causing such roaring disapproval, but it didn’t phase this once ardent fan and one who strongly believed in fair play. Even though Super Bowl XL would go down as one of sport’s most controversial games, it no longer mattered to the one who mattered so much to me.

As I shut off the TV and leaned over to kiss my father’s cheek, I sensed that he was losing his own battle. The unfairness of the game we just watched mirrored the unfairness I felt in losing him. 

When I was a child my dad liked to compare life to how we play games. It's up to us to learn the rules and play hard while playing fair. He cautioned that not everyone plays fair. When there are bad calls, you continue to play the way you know you should. People forget the score and remember how you played. But he also knew that life was much more than a game.

He was right. I have won and lost many “games” but the times I’ve felt best afterwards were when my character played its best too. Super Bowl XL didn’t turn out like I’d hoped. As I left the hospital that night, I was thinking that life wasn't going like I'd hoped either. Then I remembered... things might not be fair, but I could still play well. That's now my Super Bowl lesson—the last one I had with my father.

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