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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hang in there, football players

Here's an open letter to the players on the Ferndale football team.
And the kids from Hazel Park.
And Lamphere and Lakeview and Fitzgerald and anywhere else where wins have been tougher to come by than compliments from Oscar the Grouch.

Hang in there.
I know it is not Plato. It is not Socrates. It ain't even Eminem. It is just Evans.
Right now, the easiest thing to do is quit. Listen to your alleged friends loitering in the halls at school or the mall and just turn your equipment in. Take a last glance at the scoreboard, see the way the numbers are adding up against your team, and get discouraged.
None of the above teams have won a game yet this season.
It is no fun to lose. Somehow, the cheerleaders seem a little quieter. The trumpets in the marching band are a little less strident. The trips back to school in the bus seem much, much longer.
That ankle you wrenched on the third and 23 play is a little more painful. That bump you took  on the failed goal line stand is still throbbing. Every day, a new bruise seems to take up residence somewhere on your body.
Hang in there.
It know it’s not Shakespeare. It’s not Walt Whitman. It ain’t poetry. It’s just some prose from Evans.
Keep showing up for practice. Keep hefting in the weight room. Keep working harder and when you figure you’ve had enough, punch in and get back to work.
Lead by example, no matter where you reside on the depth chart. It doesn’t matter if you hardly leave the field during games, or if you spend most every Friday night toeing the spectating side of the sidelines.
Lead by encouraging your friends. I mean the ones on the team, not the ones snickering in the halls and the malls. Trust me, those aren’t your real friends. True friends encourage, not discourage.
They want you to quit and what does that set you up for later in life? Quitting again and again. Believe me, that is not a precedent you want to set. Life is full of pot holes and detours. College classes get too tough? Just quit school. The boss at work getting on your case? Just quit your job. Your wife starts to grouse too much? Just dial 1-800-CALL-SAM. Your newborn has a sleep pattern that maxes out at three hours per night. Take a walk out the front door and don’t return until you’re lassoed by the Friend of the Court.
Wins have been tough to come by for Hazel Park's Gary Tyner (with ball) and his teammates. (The Daily Tribune/LIZ CARNEGIE)

Coaches talk about the value of sports. A reference point of that talk is often life lessons. The ironic thing is, some of those lessons are not even realized until later in life.
I know I sound like your coaches. I know I sound like your parents. I know this isn’t necessarily something you want to read or even hear.
Everybody wants to play on a winning team. That’s why the huddles get so big at some schools where W’s pile up like dirty clothes on your bedroom floor. The cheerleaders maintain perfect choreography. The tubas oomph with greater emphasis. The players sprint onto the field before games a little faster, and their cars leave the school parking lot after another victorious game with more urgency. There is plenty of strut in their steps.
Hang in there and you’ll be strutting later. It might not be this season. It might not even be this year. But the strut will eventually come.
You know how to persevere. That is the quality I want to see when a resume crosses my desk. You know how to hang in there when the going gets tough. Everybody likes to hang out in the huddle when the wins are piling up.
Just because you’ve lost some games, you are not losers.
Don’t forget that. Just hang in there. It ain’t Plato. It ain’t Lady Gaga. It’s just Evans.


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