Football is not war.
War is ugly, and cruel, and heartless. War tears people apart, physically and emotionally, leaving behind bad memories of bad places where bad things had occurred.
Football is beautiful. The lights that ring out into the night like the star of Bethlehem, drawing people from afar to pay homage to the love that is unity of team and town.
War is bitter, it breaks things down, it causes people to become something they are not meant to be in order to prevent others from becoming more than what they already are.
The guy on the other side of you, he is not your enemy. He is not there to kill you or your way of life. He is your opportunity. He is the only way to find out if the work you had put in has worked. He is the mirror in which you will judge yourself.
The enemy in football doesn’t live on the other sideline, the enemy that you must defeat lives within you. And as you grow older in this life, you will learn that the enemy within you is the hardest one to defeat.
The lessons you learn in football in how to tackle the other guy will be the same lessons you will use to defeat the obstacles that tackle you later on in life.
Always keep your head up, wrap up, and drive forward.
Football gives you the chance to purge out the fear, the weakness. Football gives you a chance to defeat the enemy in you, so that you can grow to be the person you need to be way after football is gone.
You will get up early, you will make sacrifices, you will push your body to the limit. Not in efforts to prove yourself better than the other guy, but to prove yourself better than you thought you could ever be, to yourself.
You sweat now so that you won’t have to cry later.
Years from now, when the lights are no longer around, when the crowds are gone and the cheers faded, you will still have to fight battles. You will still have to fight the words that sometimes come in your head, the fears that come in your heart, the sins that come into you soul.
The player that you face tonight will be the greatest thing that will ever happen to you. He will challenge you, he will fight you and he will test you.
The man on the other side of the ball will help you become a man yourself. Be grateful of that gift.
He may win. He may knock you over and tumble you to the ground. That is his job. That is his purpose.
And you? You are the same to him. The greatest gift you can give to another man is to help him become who he needs to be. As odd as it sounds, the better you become as an athlete, the better you will help your opponent become as a person. And why is that important?
Because this world needs better people.
The real battle that occurs on the field isn’t what happens during the play. The real battle that occurs between the lines is what happens after the play is blown dead, when you are on the ground, when your breathe and your soul are heavy.
The real battle is whether you will get up and do it again. The real test is if you are willing to go back and do it all over again, knowing you can do it better, even if you are completely outmatched.
Football is beautiful because it is hard and physical and challenging. You put on armor to do battle, all in hopes of stripping your self down, exposing your soul and allowing the world to see your heart.
Football is not war. Be thankful of that. Just ask anyone that has ever seen real war.
Football is the opportunity to show the world just how strong you can be, not because you defeat the guy in front of you, but that you defeat the person inside of you that sometimes tells you that you can’t.
War is about death. Football is about life.