Super Losers

I really hate losing. It took me awhile into adulthood to realize that I was really a competitive person. It’s part of who I am, and the intensity ebbs and flows with who, what, why, when and where.

Having children has tempered the display of my competitive side, knowing that three sets of little eyes are watching every move.

My boys have changed how I watch team sport events. It poses a challenge at times to keep the ratio of emotion:intellect even. It is a constant swing between who I am as Hollie, woman and Hollie, mom.

Sometimes I give up and go watch the game alone, in my cozy chair, where I can focus and let whatever comes out from my lips during the game come out. It’s been that way much of this season due to my son’s Cardinals team steadily losing in the end of the season, and my Seahawks steadily rising.

I didn’t actually get to watch the entire Super Bowl. Watching with four boys under 12; my sister, bro-in-law, Mark and I were on constant “shhh” patrol as well as redirecting traffic to the basement. Then at half-time, like dominos, the party fell, on a course to epic breakdowns of four tired boys.

I caught pieces of the first and second quarter; my husband and Mike missed part of it too, fixing my flat tire (on my van that had just completed a 2,500+ mile trip with no issues) so that I could drive home. They were selfless and giving, and it made missing that part of the game sweet.

Mark and I drove our crew of three done with the Super Bowl home in separate vehicles, in the falling swirling snow near the end of the half-time extravaganza, slowly winding down an icy road that took longer than usual.

Home, between settling the boys and unloading the van from my road trip, Mark watched pieces and gave me quick updates; when I was done, there were two minutes left in the game.

Only a few feet here or there and the confetti would have been raining blue and green, and we would be having a very different dialogue. I can’t write that ending now.

The time clock hit zero and I turned off the TV, couldn’t bear to see the pain on the faces of our boys. Let the emotional fallout begin.

I had watched the ending in my soft chair, cuddling with my middle guy; when I knew it was over, I told him gently (I think) to please let mom be alone for a bit.

And as soon as I could, wiped from a challenging seven-day road trip and wrecked from the gut wrenching awful moment of the end of SB49, I went to bed and closed my eyes, eventually drifting off to sleep.

The reverberation of that last moment will echo for many years, and every twelve watching will have their own unique version of that story to tell.

What I remember most painfully, is Richard Sherman’s face crumple as he watched the ball fall into the hands of the opponent. Russell, walking off the field, carrying the weight of the Seahawks world with him. And Pete Carroll’s face, with a look I’ve never seen before, and hope I don’t have to again, etched with the knowing it was over, there was no more to be done. They had fought until the end, and finished, but they had not won this battle.

I take defeat and failure hard; one of the gifts of feeling everything intensely means really feeling the pain of grief in every way, from every person. If I’ve been the one who makes a mistake or error or judgement call, I am the hardest on myself. As much as I imagine the players pain, I can’t imagine how it really felt from their angle, their position, their experience.

“I think it’s the nature of competitors that they think about the things they’ve done wrong far more than the things they’ve done right.” Kurt Warner shared in an interview today. And who are some of the strongest, biggest, most proud competitors in the NFL? They have to carry this memory in a far different way than the fans.

My method of Seahawks Post Traumatic Stress recovery yesterday was to engage in avoidance behaviors; no social media, no national media, just listening to 710ESPN Seattle, Brock & Salk. They have framed this painful game so well, and it’s a testament to the fervent love of Seattle teams, the Seahawks, and the power of the twelves that we feel we have an intimate connection with each other, a community to share this pain.

Today I managed to listen to two of the post game interviews from the locker room; and It was painful. We can say whatever we want about people’s behavior on the field, pontificate about the route, the call, the tackle, the missed opportunity, it’s easy from the stands and from our couch.

The thing is, these are real people, in most cases young guys, playing in an excruciating game of physical and mental endurance, under unbelievable expectations.

So if someone cracks at the end of a brutal battle, after hearing trash talk about one of his brothers, I have to say, I don’t blame him. There are always two sides to a story, and until we hear them both, it isn’t our job to pass a guilty verdict. Hearing the pain and shock and grief in these two voices was enough for one day.

I’m a bit of a fan of Pete Carroll, maybe I need his jersey? And I’ve been saying that this year, this team, this season, it’s not just about football, there’s more to this story. Pete spoke today on The Pete Carroll Show on ‘Brock and Salk” about how the team is dealing with the disappointment, and how he wants to go through this pain with the twelves as well. He didn’t disappoint. This losing is all part of Win(ning) Forever.

“I think the resilience of our football team is unmatchable, and the character of the guys that we have, that’s what makes the difference.”Russell Wilson

In this game, we thought we were going to win, but the story happened for the other team. It’s not so great being on the other side of that page. And the Seattle Seahawks are now being defined by a single play call.

When I make a call that fails spectacularly, I’m so thankful it isn’t very often in the presence of a million people.

I still hate losing, especially in this way. After this season, after all of the hard work, and the rebirth, to come to the end where the loss is measured in feet and seconds is simply heartbreaking.

How we deal with defeat, losing, loss is the biggest test of our spirit. I don’t need to see anymore bad losers, sore losers, I’ve done that on my own.

But Super Losers…that’s something I’ve rarely seen.

In the second half of the game, while unloading my baggage, I talked to God (nice to have someone listening). I said, Okay, God, these guys have a story that is unbeatable, please help them win, for their story to end with victory.

After my whispered words evaporated in the snow filled air, the thought immediately followed, (God’s answer), -oh, but sometimes it’s through losing, that the greatest victories are won.



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