Mostly for Fever from a young fan

I don't read this blog much anymore but my daughter--who according to her own red-faced confession ranted about something over the summer using this screen name( I promised her I wouldn't read it, so mortifying is it, but the truth is I can't remember how I would do that if I wanted)--has asked me to post this for her.

Let me preface this only by saying she's not old enough to drive, she is a 4th generation Steelers fan who clutched a terrible towel in her tiny fist when she was a day old, and she reminds a few of us of Hines, her sports hero--small, tough, intense, loyal and capable of blazing with joy that you feel in your bones when you see it happen.

Heres something different. I mean, get some perspective people. I wasn’t going to say anything ever again but I read the stuff you guys are quoting and Fever is all down on the team, so I had to get Dog to post this for me. This isn’t the war of independence when people made themselves a whole new country and its not like anything Lincoln said about civil war or recovering from a lot of guys dying. Losing a football game, even losing a lot of them and looking like big weenies on tv isn’t great but it’s not horrible either. The horrible thing is people got hurt, some bad, and then all you whining about it or doing the whole pitchfork thing like nobody on the planet knows what its like to lose a game. Like somebody needs to PAY. Because you sitting at home wearing your official $149 NFL shirt you bought for exactly the right player is all that matters. (That shirt comitte business about this or that shirt was good or not allowed was stupid and sounded really sad, like guys with no real life.)

Heres a quote. Years ago, my gran said: Anybody can win a football game. Nobody really remembers the circumstances but we think it was after someone she hated like Dallas or Oakland won. We say that a lot. We use that to mean all kinds of things like anyone, really anyone, even a loser can win. Or maybe it means that winning isn’t everything despite some stupid quote from a coach. (like what else would he say, it was his job!) Maybe it means it’s easy to win and its easy to like a team that wins a game but it takes someone special to lose and like a team that loses. I’m voting for that last one at least today.

That’s coming from me and I’m a sore loser and I used to be a jerk to other people too, and only used to be because I learned to control myself. I’m really good at a sport where I do it all solo and I hate hate hate having to depend on people on a team and my first impulse is to be all screamy in people’s faces, stuff like that. Then one of my sibs was on a loser team. I mean really LOSER. Every week, there they went down the old draineroo looking like clowns with numbers. I said, how come you go every time? Just quit, that’s what I would do.

My parents heard me or maybe Sib ratted me out. Next thing I know I’m made something like assistant to the coach so I have to go to every practice and sit on the bench for every game and see people crying at practice or in the parking lot, and I got one of those shirts with a number on it like the rest of the idiots so everybody can see I belong to them. We just kept right on losing. Not every single game, I think we won once or twice when somebody was worse than we were or we were all miracles at the same time. One day I told someone they were terrible and the coach says to me—you’re so smart, how do we get better? Write it out, three points at a time, three little things for each practice we can change or do better. Maybe I helped a little, we were all trying to help each other but this isn’t one of those stories where we all pulled together and won everything in some movie kind of ending. We got a little better at some things, we didn’t get better at other things. The best kid on the team got hurt, another one moved, stuff like that. We got a kid worse than anyone ever but they wanted to play and what could coach say—no, you can’t play because we are so good we lost 10 without you but you might bring us down?? So yea, this is about losing.

Here’s what happens when you lose.

You find out who your friends are. You find out who the jerks are who like to try to make you feel worse. You find out what kind of jerk boos at his own team and what kind of jerk, including some peoples parents!! Get in their cars and leave if you’re losing because they’re too good for that. You get to see what people just stay there and watch and clap for good things and give you a round at the end just because you were trying and they like that. Those weren’t all parents either.

You find out what your teammates are really like. Like the kids who keep trying and pat each other on the back and notice if something goes right or the ones who blame everyone else or tell people howw awful they were like it was always somebody elses fault.

You find out what you are. Like, are you a jerk who thinks bad things about everyone else or do you want to whine and quit or throw a tantrum? Or can you reach down and find a better thing, like you care about your teammates even if they stink or make a mistake and maybe you appreciate them doing the same for you.

And all this hard stuff. You find out what its like to keep getting yourself psyched up just to practice , because its really hard to keep doing something and not being very good or just improving slowly, and then to play and know all the crapola that will come your way from other people but you do it because you want to be a little better. Just keep trying because that’s what matters. Or to stick with something. This moment when you look around and you know you just aren’t good enough for the other team, you’re gonna lose again, but you see your team playing that little bit better or maybe not, maybe they’re still screwing up but they’re really trying, they’re trying to improve and remember all the stuff they did in practice and that kind of thing. I always remember us in a kind of huddle and Coach was being real upbeat and someone says, so we gonna win, Coach? And Coach said, Maybe. maybe not but that doesn’t mean we are gonna quit without trying! We all yelled this yell we made up and did our l ittle dance. Did we win? I’m not telling because that isn’t the point.

Not much of a big speech. Not Lincoln or Shakespeare. Its one of the best memories I have of being on a team or maybe even any sport thing even tho I’m good on my own, I win stuff by myself. Somehow that was the best moment. It was only a year or so ago but I think I might remember that all my life.

Thisis the best about losing. You learn to be proud of your team. It does matter to keep trying. You keep caring after 8, 9 times you lose and even right near the end when there’s no way you can win. I don’t know why. It makes my heart hurt in a good way to think about.

And yea, I know, these guys on the Steelers are getting paid but I’ll bet it doesn’t make all that much difference, they’re still people and they’re trying and even if they don’t win another game, I’ll wave my towel and be proud of them for some of the stuff on, interviews and such, where they take responsibility for themselves and commit to being better. That’s all they can do. These are my steeler heroes: Rocky, Hines, Deebo. Did you ever see one of those guys quit? You wanna boo one of them? (Yea, you probably do wanna boo Deebo next week!)

I’m a Steelers fan. I don’t quit.

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