I know, I know, I know. It’s only a football game. But it’s fun to get wrapped up in the excitement of the Super Bowl, and it’s fun to cheer on a team you’ve been associated with since you were a kid. (Steve Largent was one of my first childhood celebrity crushes.) (#SeahawksLifer)
It’s also a big fat bummer when your favorite team loses in the final seconds of the game, especially when you thought for sure they had it in the bag.
But losses are opportunities to learn. That’s part of why we play sports. Looking back, there are some valuable lessons we can pull from that game. Whether our kids play a sport or do some other competitive activity that involves teamwork, here are ten takeaways from the Seahawks Super Bowl loss we can share:
1) Competition is about pushing ourselves—and letting others push us—to excel. Both teams worked extremely hard to get to the Super Bowl and they both played extremely well overall. Despite the heartbreak we Seahawks fans are in over the last play, there was some seriously exciting football being played in that stadium the whole game. It’s always fun to watch people who excel in their field, and both teams brought their A-game on Sunday.
2) Miraculous things can happen. Did you see that catch Jermaine Kearse made? (Of course you did, that’s how we ended up at the goal line.)
3) Miraculous things can happen for the other team, too. Did you see that catch Malcolm Butler made? (Of course you did, that’s how we lost the game at the goal line.)
4) Sometimes you lose. No matter how much you believe, how prepared you are, how great your mindset is, sometimes you meet your match. And sometimes you lose.
5) Losing a game—even the championship—even in a crushing manner—doesn’t define who you are as a team or as an individual. Your record, your efforts and attitude, your daily commitment to competing to be the best you can be—those are the things that define you. It’s not possible to win every single game. But you can “win forever” by bringing your best to every practice, to every game, and by continuing to do that every day, win or lose.
6) Your ugliest moment doesn’t define you, either. Sometimes when we’re disappointed, we let our emotions get the better of us. When the stakes are high, frustrations run high. That’s not an excuse to fight. But when a handful of intense guys playing an inherently violent sport start getting physical with their frustration, I’m never surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. Football has a physicality to it that most other sports don’t have, so in those heated moments, I refrain from too much judgment. Unsportsmanlike conduct is not okay, but as I said, one ugly incident doesn’t define who we are.
7) How we handle ourselves after the fact, however, does define who we are. Bruce Irvin, who was ejected from the game in the final seconds, said that his behavior was uncalled for and he apologized. That’s what you do when you lose your cool. Ideally, you don’t lose it to begin with, but if you do, you’ve got to at least have the class to apologize and admit you were wrong.
8) How we handle mistakes also defines who we are. Whether that last play call by the Seahawks was a mistake will be debated for years to come. Head coach Pete Carroll says they had no question about it when it was called, that they made that choice based on the defense the Patriots pulled up. But the interception, combined with hoards of fans yelling at our television screens, “GAAAAHHH! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT!?!” suggests, in hindsight, that perhaps it wasn’t a good call.
Either way, Coach Carroll, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevill, and quarterback Russell Wilson all took responsibility for what many have dubbed the worst play call in NFL history. Fair assessment or not, that’s not a small thing to own up to. It shows true nobility, especially on that large of a stage, to say, “That was my fault.”
9) How you treat your opponent after a loss also defines who you are. Richard Sherman, who doesn’t usually show quite as much graciousness when the Seahawks win, was the first to shake Tom Brady’s hand. The coaches and players have all talked about how great a play Butler made for the Patriots, despite how devastating it was for the Hawks. You give the other team the kudos they deserve. No whining, no complaining, no excuses.
10) Finally, how you move on after a painful loss defines who you are. The Seahawks are already looking forward to next season. They’re disappointed, for sure, but if I know anything about Pete Carroll and his players, they won’t be dwelling on it. As fans, we shouldn’t either. You don’t throw in the towel, you don’t give up on yourself or your team—you accept that things didn’t go the way you wanted and you utilize the strength that comes with adversity to prepare for the next challenge.
Those are the Seahawk Super Bowl takeaways I’ll be sharing with my kids.
And hats off to the Patriots. They really did play a great game.
Photo credit: Philip Robertson
More Seahawks parenting wisdom: 12the Man Mom: How the Seahawks are Making Me a Better Parent