There’s this little game being played on Sunday; perhaps you’ve heard of it. But why exactly is it that this event, this sport, and in particular our Seahawks mean so much to those of us watching from our living room?
I suggest that for a moment, we fervent Pacific Northwesterners set aside the X’s and O’s and the numbers on the scoreboard. Like so many other things in life, if we view this seemingly nonsensical sport in a slightly different light, we see what it is that draws us in: ourselves.
At any given point in the game, there are 22 players on the field, and 22 different success stories to go with them. But I’m not referring to the players’ ridiculous salaries or their 200,000 Twitter followers.
Regardless of what their income or notoriety is now, these players are living a dream they’ve probably had since a very early age; a dream that required unwavering belief in themselves and endless hard work.
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No one picks the correct lottery numbers and suddenly gets invited to play professional football. No one has a contract in the NFL handed down to them in a will. Ask Thurston County’s own Jonathon Stewart of Timberline High, now playing for the Carolina Panthers, just how many of his successes were handed to him.
Consider your own dreams for a moment, no matter if you were bestowed with the body of an athlete or with the soul of a poet. How many have dreamed of playing professional sports? How many have dreamed of writing the next great American novel, or of painting the next Mona Lisa, or of accepting an Oscar, or of inventing the next high-tech gizmo that no human should be without?
I believe that at some point we have all had an outrageous dream of reaching uncanny success.
Now here’s the tough question: How many of us have realized this dream? I’m guessing the overwhelming answer to this question is sadly, “not me.”
Well, not me either, if it makes anyone feel better. I graduated from college with a double major in English and journalism, and with a dream of taking the advertising industry by storm and writing fiction books.
With my education and stubborn desire to succeed, how could I fail, right? Then life happened. No career in any big New York ad agency, and no best-selling novel. Truthfully, just excuses.
But since the human spirit can be fragile, it is easily influenced. And this is exactly what we should allow this game to do on Sunday: inspire us, if nothing else.
You don’t have to be a fan of the Seahawks, or even of football, to be moved by the story of Derrick Coleman, the NFL’s first legally deaf player who was told most of his life that he was going to fail, or by the story of Earl Thomas and how his mother was inexplicably cured from cervical cancer two years before he was born, and was never expected to have children.
Determination, faith, hard work. These aren’t silly phrases of how the world used to be, they’re timeless concepts that work under any circumstance.
When I witness the unfurling of a dream, whether in sports, the arts or in business, it causes me to reflect on how little attention I actually gave my own goals. Did I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. to write that novel? No. Did I spend every day after school and all weekend practicing my craft? No. And the list of excuses goes on.
There will be 22 representations of fortitude and passion on the field this weekend in Met Life Stadium. They re-ignite that little flame deep inside my head and my heart that reminds me, “If they can do that, then I can do this.”
In this inspiration, all of the perfectly good justifications for giving up vanish.
For 60 minutes, amidst the melee of breaking bones and testosterone-fueled chest-bumping, it is proved to the world that even the most unlikely can still pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps, overcome any obstacle or condition, and become that which they dreamed.
And it proves to me that the next great American novel just might still be a possibility.
Patrick Thier is a managing broker at Virgil Adams Real Estate and a member of The Olympian’s 2014 Board of Contributors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.