I'll Meet You Somewhere In The Middle

I'll Meet You Somewhere In The Middle

Posted by Hallie S. on Sep 19th 2018

Passed down from generations

I’ve talked before about how football is a significant part of my life and it has been for over a decade. Mind you, I didn’t grow up in what I would call a very sports-centric family. I would say I grew up being athletic but not a big rah rah sports fan. Although I will always be a die hard Joe Montana fan. Jus sayin. Regardless, football has come to be a sport that I love and fear in equal measure. Love because I love to watch them play. Fear because it’s essentially men trying to run over one another. Like a modern day version of Gladiator.

What has made it a little easier on the heart and on my perspective is that for years my sons have played for the same organization. Both played for years for the same youth organization, with classmates, neighbors, friends. Unfortunately, we are not everyone’s cup of tea and my youngest played his remaining two youth years for a cross town rival and both my Rob and my oldest son helped to coach. My little then started his high school career, bleeding purple for a private high school while his brother continued along his Lion safari. Two different teams, two different leagues, no rivalry…those were the good ole days…

Too far back to trace

This year, not so much. I have a senior and a sophomore. A QB and LB. A Lion and a Seawolf. Same league. Opposing teams. And they each individually open their football seasons this coming Saturday. And - yes, the teams face each other. Let’s add some fuel to that fire and remove the most important man in their life, the man that has coached them both. My Rob. Whom happens to be away hunting on a trip with his dad that was months in the making before this was even a thought. In Nova Scotia. And due to return on Sunday. When the game is already over.

And that leaves me to get the job done. To root for both in equal measure. To keep it all together - mentally, emotionally, physically. Half Lion, half Seawolf. It will be the first and probably only time my boys will be on the football field together in the capacity of them both being players. Brothers, Competitors, Rivals - meeting each other somewhere in the middle.

Competitors versus Rivals

In an effort to slow down my beating heart, let’s take a look at this from a factual standpoint. There is a vast difference between the words competitors and rivals. Although one kind of encompasses the other. Turned to my solid gal Merriam and she stated that a competitor is “one that competes”. Okay. So I then asked her about compete. The definition of compete states “to strive consciously or unconsciously for an objective (such as position, profit, or a prize), to be in a state of rivalry”. AHA!!!! So that makes most of us competitors in much of our day to day life. We compete to see who gets the front seat, the first shower, the remote. We compete against our co-workers, other athletes in the gym, blah blah blah. In countless ways, whether you acknowledge it or not, we take part in being a competitor in some facet of our lives.

And then there’s rivalry. Did you see that? “To be in a state of rivalry”...

Rivals take competitors to the next level. Rival is defined as “one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess”, “to be in competition with”. With rivals, you’re taking being a competitor and looking to win, to outplay, to excel, to give yourself to a worthy cause and come out on top. King of the mountain. Striving to attain something that only ONE can possess. You can compete without being rivals but you cannot be a rival without being a competitor.

Competition versus Rivalry

Believe it or not, these two are NOT synonymous. One remains fairly objective with the eye focused on the prize while the other is more personal and the act of attaining the prize is personally more important than the prize itself. Follow me?

With competition, there is a direct focus on the end result. A win. A promotion. The front seat. With rivalry, there is a personal element. It’s not so much the win but it’s the act of winning over the opponent, the rival. It’s beating the other person and getting the promotion, getting to the front seat first and having the satisfaction of the other person NOT getting the front seat. Make sense? And, yes - this makes it easy to see where what starts as competition can easily morph over time into rivalry.

Pros and Cons to Competition

There are pros and cons to competition in all aspects of our life - not just when it comes to sports. Here’s a few of the ones that I hit home with me.

We love to compete!

1. Competition inspires motivation

A little bit of healthy competition can bring about some motivation - motivation to study harder, to eat healthier, to lift the heavier weight. Competition at its finest is a great way to motivate someone to give their max effort.

2. Competition teaches perseverance

This one is so important to me and one I believe in strongly. Competition teaches us to persevere. Competition teaches us there is more than one way to do things, allows you to clear your lens and maybe see things from a different angle. It teaches us that failure is going to happen and when you rise from that failure and persevere to try again, well - that becomes character building.

3. Competition builds self-confidence

Competition is self-confidence building. I don’t care what age you are, what it is you’re competing in, with motivation and perseverance towards a particular accomplishment it allows us to feel pride, to build our self-confidence and get rid of the word can’t. I’m talking about the child that works all summer to learn how to ride a bike like their friends and each day rides a little bit further on their own, the athlete that takes years upon years of instruction only to have that day when the throwing motion clicks, the student that doesn’t get accepted the first time but works hard and gets accepted the following year.

I can see all my relations

Competition not so much...

1.  Competition brings about stress

It’s stressful to compete. And I think in today’s day and age, we are not as equipped to deal with the rigors of stress and, in some individuals, they may shut down when faced with competition at any level.

2. Competition impacts self-esteem

Let’s face it - winning is better than losing and we feel better when we win than when we lose - whether it’s the game or the coveted front seat. If we as individuals are not equipped to handle loss, understand that it is a fact of life, this can negatively impact our self-esteem.

3. Competition can inflate a sense of self

We’ve all seen this, both professionally as well as athletically. That person that always wins and has an air of superiority, a lack of humility and empathy. Competition can give us an inflated sense of self that is not only unbecoming but alleviates us to a place that makes for a long fall when we come across that person that is in fact better than us.

Pros and Cons to Rivalry

I told y’all that competition is very different than rivalry. Now we’ve upped the ante because we have integrated an emotional aspect to it. Just a few pros and cons to be fair to competition.

Pro Rivalry

1.  Rivalry elevates the level of play

This is like motivation on steroids. With rivalry, the desire to come out on top is exponentially increased by the drive to do better than the opponent. Rivalry gives effort a significant kick in the pants and puts it into high gear.

2. Rivalry creates a cohesive unit

When you have a group of people or individuals that are all joined together for the same cause, you create cohesion. A well oiled machine that is working in unison towards the same goal is a much mightier beast than a group of individuals trying to collaborate for their own individual gain.

3. Rivalry shows you where you need to improve

This is so key. A good rivalry, whether with a sports team, a coworker, a friend shows you where you need to improve. If we do our best to look at any negativity as objectively as possible, take an honest look at our performance and how we got beat, rivalry can help you to get to the next level of play by showing you where you went wrong, forcing you to work on those areas.

When I look into my face

Rivalry Hard Pass

1. Rivalry may inspire unethical behavior

I do think that rivalries can bring out the worst in us if it means that we can ‘beat’ our rival. Spreading office gossip to negatively impact the coworker we’re up against for the promotion, playing past the whistle, locking the door so that our sibling can’t get to the front seat before us. The potential to cheat or act unethically is higher when the emotional stakes are higher.

2. Rivalry can cause us to choose a worse individual outcome

Ugh. Yeah. When a rivalry exists, we can exercise a tendency to choose a less than ideal outcome for ourselves if it means that our rival will get an even worse outcome. Athletes taking steroids to enhance their performance, taking that risk but with the hope that it helps them to beat out their opponent. Spending more than our budget on a tangible item to one up that neighbor. Lifting the heavier weight in an attempt to keep up with the other athlete.

3. Rivalry clouds our vision to the broader scope

When all you are focused on is that sole rivalry, you are narrowing your vision and not seeing other competitive threats. If all a team focuses on is the win against one team - what happens to the rest of the season? If all of your attention is on that one coworker you’re up against for the promotion, what about the person sitting quietly in their cubicle laying the groundwork and doing their job, outperforming you? That singular focus can be our downfall in the end.

Weighing In

I believe that there is so much to be gained by healthy competition and a healthy rivalry. We should always be striving to bring the best version of ourselves to the table, guide our kids to bring out the best in themselves. Opening yourself up to being inspired and motivated to give more, to pursue the victory and elevate your level of play, join forces and rise from the defeat - that’s life changing stuff!

Simply be aware of the negative aspects. Teach your children humility and grace when winning and be that example. Brush it off and send them back to the drawing board by doing the same when you fail. Set them up for success later in life by being honest that in life you get more no’s than yes’s and that when you give yourself to a worthy cause and EARN that yes - there is no greater reward. You do that by living that, by being that example for them.

Lions and Seawolves Oh My!

This upcoming Saturday should prove to be interesting to put it mildly. I am grateful for the fact that I will get to see both of my boys play. I am grateful for the vast amount of support that will be there in recognition of them as our sons, in honor of the last name on their birth certificate and not the name on the front of their football jerseys.

My boys were funny - they both asked me to not text them on Saturday. That I could impart the last of my wisdom and my quotes and my advice to them no later than Friday but after that - well they would see me after the game. And I will respect what they asked of me.

May never make it famous

I had the opportunity to see both of them this past weekend - one scrimmage and then another - and that was a blessing. And what surprised me was the mutual respect they have for one another. And it hit home with me that they get it - they both want the best for one another. I truly believe that each of them wants the other to do well, to have a great game. I don’t need to tell them that they are brothers first. Because they already know that.

And this will not be the only time this fall they have to meet in the middle. See, today is my Rob’s birthday. The big 4-9. And for his birthday, I got tickets for the Patriots vs Green Bay game. Rob and CJ being Pats fans, my Jax being a Cheesehead. A once in a lifetime opportunity for the three of them and one of Rob’s best friends to spend time together making a memory, watching a game that is a vital part of each of them. And that day - that will be a day that they will cherish, where memories will be made.

But I'll never bring it shame

To both of my boys - be great on Saturday. Smile, have fun, be a leader. Go out and play for the love of the game, in honor of the man that you not just call Dad but that you also call Coach. He told me before he left that not being there will be one of the hardest days in his lifetime of being a dad. But that he had less years left of being a son than he did of being a dad. And that he knew without question that both of you understood that.

It's my last name

And know that I will be there. Probably crying. Heart in my throat. Texting your dad as furiously as I can. And after the game, come find me and take a picture with me in your uniforms so that we can send it to your dad and give him that to see him home on Sunday.

Saturday, September 22, 2018. I’ll meet you both somewhere in the middle.