Monday, February 7, 2011

Football, society, and the lessons of Lombardi

Football isn't just a sport to me. It's a character-builder. It's understanding that hard work, determination, and dedication allow a team of men to achieve the impossible, to go the distance and win it all, for themselves as well as their fans.

The Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl this weekend symbolizes that sentiment. The lowest ranked team in the NFC playoffs, the underdogs throughout each game they played in the postseason, come out and win it all. There is no greater story in sports than this.

The impossible is possible. We should never settle, should never give up, should always chase that which is out of reach. They are the lessons that Lombardi taught his team nearly 50 years ago, the lessons that still hold true today:

"People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society."

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

"We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible. "

That is why so many Americans, and in particular so many Wisconsinites, love this game. It is the chase of a dream, of an impossible goal -- perfection -- that makes the sport, and our country, great. For the American dream is much like the game of football -- it is the constant pursuit of greatness for all, of achieving that which gives you purpose in life, that makes it all the more worth chasing.

The cynics that tell you that there is no purpose in football, no meaning behind the team sports, shouldn't be shunned; there are real problems that need to be dealt with, real societal problems that affect every day people, most of the fans of the sport included. But they don't understand fully what the sport symbolizes for millions of Americans: Hope; Aspiration; the pursuit of Happiness; and the pursuit of Perfection.

If everyone felt those things in the lives they led, if everyone fought with the tenacity that the Green Bay Packers displayed, both last night and 50 years ago, then society would be all the more better for it.

Chase the impossible; go for perfection; and let's move our country forward.

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