What You and Your Kids Can Learn From Football

Football is the good ole American pastime. Bringing together two teams, a field, and a pigskin has brought upon hearty debates and impressive shows of human strength and athleticism. Even if you’re not a professional player in the NFL, you can still learn a lot of lessons from the great game of football that apply to your everyday life.

1. It’s a game of inches.

In football, just a few inches can completely sway the game. A few inches make the difference between a first down and a turnover, a touchdown and a down, or ultimately winning or losing. Four quarters of sweat, blood, exertion, and athleticism could all be determined by that single seemingly irrelevant measure.

All of life’s little moments combine to create what exists right now. Whether for better or worse, we must accept our life circumstances and make an active decision on how to react to what comes our way. By being grateful and humble, pragmatic and determined, focused and energetic, you can teach your children the invaluable life skills of problem solving, coping, and playing an active role in how life pans out.

2. Don’t complain to the refs.

Referees exist to enforce the rules present in the official rulebook, and for the most part, they do a good job of it. On occasion, refs will make a horrendous call. You can argue with them all you want, until you’ve completely exhausted the English vocabulary, but the fact is, it won’t change the call. Instead of focusing your energy on badmouthing the refs, go back to the huddle, regroup with your teammates, and put your all into the next down. If the bad call comes at the end of the game, head back to the locker room, get ready for practice, and make sure you do everything you physically can to prepare for the next game.

In life, you don’t have control over everything or the hand that you were dealt. You might be dealing with difficult circumstances. As the saying goes, life isn’t always fair, and while you can’t control the calls life makes, you can control yourself and how you go about attaining success, however you define it.

3. We all have a plan… until we don’t.

In football, you follow the play—the set plan that gets you, your team, and the ball closer to the end zone, or keeps the other team from reaching the end zone. After the hike, however, your quarterback may be beset and quickly tackled by the largest linebackers you have ever seen.

You have your plans in life as well. Both short-term (your basic plans for the day) and long-term (job, marriage, kids, and beyond). But then you face a challenge. You don’t truly know a person’s character until you see how he faces adversity. You can drop to your knees and crawl away in defeat, or you can regroup and move past it. Maybe your plans weren’t what you really wanted to begin with.

4. We all lose.

It’s the end of the game, and despite the stellar performance by everyone on the team, you lost by two touchdowns.

The fact is, losing isn’t fun. Everybody can’t be the winner. Even if you want to tell yourself “you’re a winner because you tried,” it doesn’t do much to take away the disappointment and sadness. Sometimes that’s just how life is, no matter how hard you want it not to be. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. The important thing is that you don’t give up because of it.

5. Give it your all until the end of the game.

It’s a simple idea, and one that has been echoed time and time again. Give your best effort each play, until the end of play. Do everything to the best of your ability. In football, this reduces the chance of getting injured and usually leads to good things, namely a win. Even if you don’t win, you will at least have no regrets about the outcome knowing that you gave your everything.

In life, give your best at every opportunity, from being the best dad you can be to getting that new job. When you’ve done your absolute best, you will have no regrets. And that’s the best example you can set for your kids to follow.

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