A colleague once remarked; “if football is the best sport, then why does it have the shortest season? “
I guess in one sense, that is at the core of its attraction:
To be willing to make a long-term personal investment. To learn and adhere to some of life’s most profound and lasting lessons. All of which are intended to be enthusiastically and relentlessly expended and experienced in a series of short but powerful instances.
14 of them.
Without a doubt, the preparation, commitment and the focus one needs to get the absolute most out of those instances has grown to be far more than simply a year round endeavor.
The weight training, the speed and agility, HLT, planning, team building, meeting and the bonding that have to precede it – and proceed from it – is an all-consuming effort.
An undertaking that in many cases has been 8 years in the making.
An ongoing tutorial on the essence and value of perseverance.
Perhaps it was not by design that it became so. But that one particular aspect of our game helps to make it the greatest ever invented.
True on the job training not to simply endure – but to actively embrace perseverance.
An apprenticeship that forms the attitudes, develops the habits and reveals the character to enable one to thrive in such circumstances for the long haul.
A rare opportunity to grow physically, mentally and emotionally as you work, and wait. Work more, wait longer. Work even more, then wait even longer.
Allowing yourself to be pulled farther down this path though never quite knowing where you will come out.
Understanding that things truly important and lasting can never be gained just passing through, working around the edges or merely scratching the surface.
Generating within a sense of gratitude for the privilege of being tested in this fashion.
Now, July came and went. Soon, August will fade to memories.
And going forward, things will begin to compress.
Time will become a series of short but powerful instances.
All of what you are and have done up to this point – and what you are about to become – will soon be condensed into the best 14 weeks of the year.
Moments that are best savored by letting go.
Going all in. And emptying yourself into this instant.
A venture with an outcome that has yet to be determined.
And yet, a venture who’s outcome rests solely upon all of you.
All of which brings us here today.
The first of a rigorous and demanding series of tests – across all levels – meant to extract from you every bit that you have put into it the preceding day, weeks, months and years.
The very first opportunity to work just as hard – but wait just a little bit less.
A chance to enthusiastically and relentlessly expend and experience all you are and have become into that most wonderful series of short but powerful instances.
The first of your 14 weeks.
The best time of the year.