08/10/2011 2:05 AM
Geometry tells us the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It would be great if the road from training camp to the ArenaBowl followed the same rule. For those who are wondering…it most certainly doesn’t!
By the end of the conference championship games there has been a typhoon of heartache, elation, injuries, roster moves, doubt (both internal & external), rousing victories, and hard fought defeats. Once you reach the end of this physical and emotional marathon you find yourself to be very different than you were at the start.
The quest begins early on with self discovery. How soon can a team get to know each other? Each season has its own chapter and verse so no matter how much talent returns from the previous year you have to define yourselves for the current one.
In the midst of defining the collective, individuals step forward to cement their personal role. The play maker…the spark plug…the enforcer…the stabilizing presence…the unquestioned leader. All can be accounted for on various ball clubs. It’s not only a matter of how well the men filling these roles gel, it’s also a matter of how well they sustain their brethren at the most difficult times.
Teams who reach the title game have had their share of success, but this shouldn’t be confused with an easy road. The path to a championship leaves a string of vanquished opponents in its wake. This not only takes a toll on the defeated, but on the victor as well.
Only those in the locker rooms know the levels of intensity, execution, and pure luck it takes to reach this point. A deflected pass could have gotten intercepted but instead fell harmlessly to the ground. A shoe string tackle barely tripped the ball carrier before he advanced for a sure touchdown. A game deciding field goal attempt got blocked at the line of scrimmage.
These are the elements that separate victory from defeat. As you build a team your worth is measured by your ability to accept either and continue striving for greatness. The line between winning and losing is so miniscule that the champion will be the team who capitalizes on the entirety of the journey and not linger at each individual stop along the way.
Now, at the penultimate moment of the season you find yourself gripped with thoughts of your entire body of work being defined by one last game. One last chance to determine whether or not all that you have gone through over the past year was worth it. It’s a ‘Thunder Dome’ mentality where two teams enter the field of play and only one will leave feeling validated when the night is over.
Will you be at your best when your best is required? Will you take all the positive moments from the season, but more importantly, the negative ones and allow those collective lessons to culminate in a championship performance?
If the answer is yes then the spoils of victory are yours to be had. When the answer is yes, you’ll know it was every single step of the journey that led to you reaching your goal.
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