I love to watch and participate in sports, whether it’s the Olympics or local sports, it really doesn’t matter. I love watching the individuals compete. Watching individuals push themselves to perform an activity they have spent hours and weeks, many times months, preparing for, is awesome. Sometimes, we have the opportunity to watch something great happen. Maybe it is a “come from behind” win, or maybe the underdog stuns the giant. Many times, it is an individual athlete, performing some amazing feat, that leaves everyone with their eyes wide and mouth agape. For as long as I can remember, football has been my greatest love as a team sport. I admire what it takes individually, and as a team, to bring greatness together. The physical and mental discipline required to succeed on the football field is constantly being tested, because the opponent is also pushing themselves mentally and physically. Many times, the external environment adds to the pressure. In the same season, a team may face extreme heat and humidity, and weeks later a game may be played in wet and windy forty-degree weather. But, when all is said and done, football is just a game. Or is it? True football, like all sports, is entertainment. But, I believe sports provides the unique opportunity to prepare us for real life. Football games do not end in a tie. There is a winner and a loser. Similar to life. In life, the win or loss may not be the most important thing. A team that goes undefeated and unchallenged may not be prepared for the playoffs. They may not have learned how to face, and struggle, through adversity. Conversely, a team that is undermanned and facing tougher opponents has the opportunity to be tested. They will face controversy. They will face doubt. They will question themselves. And, there in those moments, they will have the opportunity to look up to God. They will have to look within themselves and ask, “Who am I when no one is watching?” It is at these times, that a person has an opportunity to build character. It is during the storms of our life, when we make those small decisions, that show we do have what it takes to succeed. Learning from the opportunities storms present in our life, is the key to being successful. I have been part of a team unchallenged during the regular season, and I learned a great lesson: easier, is not always better. I have also been part of a team that was challenged beyond belief, when there were more losses than wins, which allowed me to witness inspiring effort and warrior-like courage. Don’t get me wrong, I can not stand to lose any football game. But, I believe there is greater value in being tested by the storms of our life, and learning from those lessons. And most importantly, to win at life is to take advantage of every opportunity for self awareness and self improvement.

Will you choose to face your storms with the character that will allow you to live a full life?

Kevin Polky,CADC, LCSW