Firstly: Congratulations to Peyton Manning. He deserved a second championship, and I'm glad he got it. He's been a solid player for years, won me two Fantasy Football championships, and been a poster child of the game.
Secondly: the blog.
In American sports, there's really nothing quite like the Super Bowl. It's watched by millions, anticipated for things beyond the game, i.e. commercials, half time show, and brings all types of people the world over together for an evening. Perhaps there's no better example of this, than the fact that Lady Gaga started things off with The Star Spangled Banner. (Which was amazing).
The Super Bowl, perhaps unlike anything else, shows us how diverse our country is. The Super Bowl sells this. The halftime of the Super Bowl was become one of the more anticipated concerts of the year; this year's show was Coldplay, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars. Three completely different types of singers, melding their sounds and working wonderfully.
The halftime show gives a little something for the musically inclined, as the commercials do the artistically - or workaholic, showing the epitome of well-thought out plans. At a supermarket before the game, my wife and I walked down the empty chip aisle, noticing all walks of life coming together for this one event. The Super Bowl, it seems, has a little something for everyone.
Everyone, that is, except the losing team.
Companies sell things, viewers are entertained, the winning team gets endorsements, to visit the white house, and huge rings. They get celebrated for a year and idolized for eternity. But to the losing team: nothing. It may even be worse than that. For days or months, the things that get written about the losing team involve only their flaws. What they could have done better. Faults that cost them the ultimate reward.
(Peyton Manning - winner this year - exemplifies this perfectly. Manning didn't have a good game. Had the Broncos lost, he would have been criticized for his age, waning talents, and inability to win the ultimate game. By winning, the story is that he goes out a hero.)
The losing team is left alone, downcast, questioning. They are forced to watch the celebration of the other team, reflect on what they could have done. Must discuss how things could have gone their way. A Super Bowl loss negates a great season.
But it's in this moment, dejected, questioning, brooding, that the Super Bowl loser is afforded true opportunity. They get the luxury of honesty. They get to face the question of their own inadequacy directly, not shying away from it. Was it my throwing form? My leadership? Play calling? Off week preparation? Game strategy? This team gets to ask questions: what do we need to win next year? What player, position, coach, or technique can get us on the other side of this game?
The answers to these questions may turn things. Blame will not. Deference will not. Pointing the finger will not.
To win, the losers must take the hard look; and then they must make the changes to their game so that they come out on top.
This is an opportunity. For the Panthers and for us.
Those of us on the losing end of something cool have the option to make the same honest self-inquiry into our own losses. What can we fix? How can we change? What in our preparation, game plan, strategy, off week preparation can be reordered so that success finds us?
The loses are not final. They are opportunity. Building blocks. A taste of what could be if we only commit.