Football Rivalries and Life Lessons


I love fall.  It is a time of transformation and football (aka the “Holy War”).

Utah and BYU have battled it out on the football field just as the defense and prosecutors battle it out in the courtroom.  In each instance lives are changed because results matter – so does character.

In the latest installment of this rivalry, which dates back to the late 1800’s, Utah arrived as the underdog in a hostile environment following a loss to USC; BYU showed up as the home favorite after a loss to Texas.  Both teams are comprised of talented players led by skilled coaches.

This game, however, is defined by character and attitude.  Utah came to play and they showed up big, because size matters.  Their hard work and preparation was evident in the outcome.

For many this game will be one of those defining moment in life, but everyone will the opportunity to learn.  To put this in context, everyone has the opportunity to learn from their mistakes; those with courage may even find an opportunity to transform their life as a result of criminal charges.

When someone makes a mistake, gets caught in a criminal act, or when their team loses a game it is tempting to “blame” other people, things or circumstances.  This “blame game” often looks or sounds like – “it’s not my fault!” or “she (he) made me do it!” or “I didn’t have a choice!”

It is impossible to learn, to grow, or to change when the “blame game” is played.  Whether it is in football or in life, blame originates with an attitude of entitlement.  This attitude perpetuates the status quo and sustains self-defeating behaviors; or, as in BYU’s case, the inability to hold onto the football.

On the other hand, the willingness to account for one’s actions invites change and fuels growth.  Integrity, humility, and respect manifest themselves in an attitude of accountability.  For those facing criminal charges, this attitude is the key to freedom.  In football, it is the key to winning, as exemplified by the University of Utah’s ability to score points on defense and special teams.

Each of these attitudes requires effort and defines character.  In the case of entitlement, some effort is required, before giving up –it looks like a quarterback trying to pick up a football in the end zone.  Accountability requires significant effort, to the end – and looks like a defensive end using his body to cover up the football in the end zone.

In an instant, the course of the game changed.  In a similar manner, the course of your life can change with a criminal charge.  What happens next is a choice between accountability and entitlement.

The first turnover, the first mistake, may set the course of future events it is the second, third, or seventh turnover that solidifies the outcome.  Change – requires commitment and courage in the face of adversity, to do things differently.  It is a test of character and resolve, and it is what separates winners and losers.

In this “Holy War,” Utah did things differently.  They adapted and allowed their defense and special teams to rise to the occasion.  In short, they chose to be accountable.  In the process they transformed the season.

What is your attitude?  Are you content to sit back and accept the outcome you are entitled to, or are you actively demonstrating accountability to achieve the outcome you want?