Nearly every Saturday morning in autumn, college football fans wake up smiling. Anticipation for the day’s game has been building all week, as the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, injuries, interviews, and conference standings are discussed. The thrill of the sport is fueled, in part, by the tension of knowing that a contest may result in victory—or defeat. After all, if a win was predetermined, the cheers wouldn’t be as loud, the prayers as heartfelt, the plays as animated, or the execution as appreciated.
Our team, the Montana State Bobcats, lost a close game last weekend in Bozeman. Prior to the loss, the undefeated Bobcats had been ranked 2nd in the conference, but the defeat meant that they may have lost a berth in the playoffs. As the enthusiastic cheering of the crowd gave way to quieter grumbling, it was obvious by looking at the players that the loss weighed heavily on their shoulders.
Ah, but we fans should have stormed the field anyway. We should have slapped every uniformed back, shook every weary hand, thanked them for a great contest, and congratulated them for their courage and hard work. Why? Because not a single one of us has the gumption to get out there on that field, face those giants, risk injury or embarrassment, and play our hearts out for the honor of team, school, and community.
“Faith is impossible without risk. Unless there is the possibility that you can experience a rejection, or a defeat…then you’re obviously playing it so safe you can’t lose. This means you are not even on the playing field of faith.” –Dr. Robert H. Schuller