Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Band Played On

"To try and define sportsmanship, if character means what you do when no one is watching, then sportsmanship is your conduct with everybody watching."
- Joe Primm

It was a day that started relatively nice in terms of the temperature with a gray pallet of clouds covering the sky. This would be a day when the bands marched on the field to play their respective school fight songs. The crowd would cheer the opening kick off of a football game between two great universities. This was the 2014 Gator Bowl between the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers and the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

And their marching bands played on.

As the opening kick lifted into the afternoon sky, the first rain drops came down upon the field. In an ever increasing opening of the rain clouds, the two teams played on. The marching bands having retired to their respective seating areas played on in support of their team. The crowd rose and fell with each heart-racing play.

In a close and intense game, the teams fought hard in those wet conditions. Emotions ran high and surfaced in moments of frustration. The rains never ceased nor did the difference in the score as half time came to the stadium. The teams retreated to their respective locker rooms for dry conditions and to regroup.

And the marching bands played on.

Each band performed in spectacular fashion even as the rain came down. This day was meant for rain slickers and galoshes to keep our shoes dry. And this day was not over as the bands retreated to their stadium seating and the teams returned to the field of battle. There was more to be left upon the field in a second half of football.

When the sportswriters and arm-chair quarterbacks have their final say, they will tell you who won, who lost and how it happened. There will be statistics of yards gained per carry, turnovers, takeaways and touchdowns. The analysis will break down why one team won and why the other team could have won.

The battle fought upon this field would be for a notch in the win column, for a trophy, for recognition and glory. It was also being fought by those playing their final game of a long career in sports. Graduation with a college degree and no professional sports career for many of these student-athletes, the battle was intense.

And the marching bands played on.

The intensity grew as the clock began a tormented countdown to the remaining minutes and seconds. The crowd was on the edge of their seats. The teams were digging even deeper as one final march down the field for a win cut open the rain clouds. The defenders were digging in even deeper, fighting to keep their lead in a close game, fighting to keep their win in hand.

With 25 seconds left, the outcome was decided. The battle was but a few clock ticks from being officially completed. A collective sigh seemed to have occurred at that moment on both sides. One team would lose and the other would carry home the spoils of victory. The final tick of the clock would show zero time left. The final tick of the clock would proclaim one team the victor.

The football players would shake hands and congratulate each other. Their grass stained jerseys, muddy hands and wet shoes would feel different dependent upon being the winner or loser. It is in these moments of great sportsmanship, they are all men, proud of having fought hard in victory or defeat.

And the marching bands played on.

Stay inspired my friends and Go Big Red!

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