It’s just a game, but the game is everything

So I’ve been recovering from surgery, and lying around in bed watching a lot of TV. I’ve been watching this show: Friday Night Lights

It’s about high school football. I hate football, because it’s so complicated and slow.

Most of the episodes end in a football game. I don’t understand downs and kickers and the points system. But this show has really caught me.

What I get is that they are all working toward something they really want. The small Texas town all shows up to root for their team. But the team has been practicing and working hard to go actually do the thing, and make the plays to win the game.

The thing about sports, the thing that I have learned to respect, is that it’s a game. A game with very defined rules, win and lose. All the way along, you know where you stand.

All the team knows what they are supposed to be doing. And football especially, unlike gymnastics or track, requires that a bunch of people work together to get the thing done. And all the different moving parts have to encounter resistance and overcome.

In a million ways all of us have a kind of game we are trying to run. We have an ambition: I want this person to like me. I want this promotion at work. I want to be in charge of this project. I want to accomplish something I’ve been working on.

But it’s hard to explain all that to others. Sometimes I can say part of it, and sometimes someone might have the time and attention to listen to it. But a lot of the time I’ve only got a vague idea of what I’m aiming at.

But the game is clear. And everyone is cooperating. The team works hard, and the spectators come. The spectators watch, but they didn’t do the work. They are not the ones actually running the ball.

But they are all remembering the ambitions they are trying to further. Or maybe remembering the memory of the ambitions. Watching the team means that somehow the dream is still alive; the ambitious fires are still burning.

The team that runs out onto the field like a conquering army is our avatar. So I can see that football is not stupid and slow. It’s a game and it’s what life is about.