What Our Kids Can Learn from the Seahawks’ Super Bowl Loss

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

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 19

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Annie. So much of what is being written about this game and final play call in the media has done nothing but help me understand why Marshawn Lynch is willing to pay a gazillion dollars not to talk to these people. So, another lesson for whatever it’s worth:

    How you treat other people when you disagree with them defines you. You are entitled to have an opinion, and you are entitled to express your opinion, but no opinion entitles you to behave like the tail end of a horse. No matter how strongly you disagree with someone, give the other person respect and treat that person the way you would like to be treated. Be at least as willing to listen and learn as you as you are to talk. If you criticize, try to keep it constructive. Watch your tone and watch your language. Debate the issue — don’t demean the person. No matter how wrong you think that person is and how right you think you are, name calling, insults, ridicule, and mean-spirited personal attacks are not okay.

    It seems to me that a fair number of adults have set a poor example in this regard lately, especially given that “the other person” has “Super Bowl winning coach” on his resume and they don’t. But whether we come down on the right call/wrong call side of the debate, I hope we can all appreciate the great season we enjoyed and look forward to the next good thing that is going to happen. And can we all agree that dancing sharks are awesome?

    Thanks again and Go Hawks!

  2. Um, you forgot, give the ball to BEAST MODE.

    Why hasn’t Pete or any of these play call apologists praised Beast Mode for an amazing game? For all of his hard work and sacrifice for this team?

    But actually, in all seriousness, I think learning to give the ball to Beast Mode in this situation is as valuable a lesson for adults and kids as any of the above lessons. Literally and figuratively.

    So, to recap:

    1. Give the ball to Beast Mode
    2. Congratulate Beast Mode for his performance, Thank him for his dedication.
    3. Apologize to Marshawn Lynch.

  3. Annie, thanks for your great insights to the game. I have to say I was so disappointed, but I am so proud of the Seahawks and all they did and the way they played. Our girls are now in their 30s, but you offer a lot of wisdom for all of us.

    Thanks again, and Go Hawks!

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  4. Yeah but your coach is a jerk who has throughout his career been a bad sport. He runs up the score when he wins and his teams rarely win with class. The crotch grabbing, brawling bad sportsmanship has been a pattern throughout his career. Not to mention the fact that he ran a program so loose at usc that the NCAA put them on probation. Of course he left the kids holding the bag.

    1. Tom, if you are referring to the lopsided score against Denver, I don’t think you should blame Pete Carroll for that – Denver played badly, missed opportunities and gave us plenty. I watched the game and never felt like the Seahawks were scoring just to run up the score.

      I’ve heard this criticism about Carroll at USC so I looked it up. The NCAA imposed sanctions against USC because three of their athletic programs (football, women’s tennis and basketball) had infractions. So don’t put all the blame on Pete Carroll, but rather on the athletic program at the university as a whole. Also, from what I’ve read, most people thought that the NCAA sanctions were too severe for the infractions, but the appeal was denied – even after other universities were given lighter sanctions for worse actions. It seems that the NCAA decided to make an example of some university as a warning to others to follow the rules, and USC was the unlucky one. So quit dwelling on something that can’t be changed.

      1. Patricia,

        Not dwelling at all but have followed PC’s career as a long time Pac 10/12 fan.

        Your post is well written and I agree there are always lessons which can be learned through sports. But learning character lessons from Pete, well I’m not so sure.

        Running up the score on lesser opponents was a trademark of his tenure at usc. When Jim Harbaugh and Stanford returned the favor handing sc its most lopsided loss in school history Carroll’s team ran to the locker room without shaking hands.

        Steriod use was rampant during his time at usc. Read up on the Ting brothers who received scholarships to sc. Note who their father is. Also note how the unceremoniously left the team and why.

        See his personal relationship with a usc women’s volleyball player.

        Carroll was a win at all cost recruiter, and coach who got out of town just before it all came tumbling down.

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      Tom, calling Pete Carroll a “jerk” leads me to believe you haven’t given as much time, or at least not as much thought, to following him as you state. Do you know him personally? Have you at least read his book? Everything I’ve read about him, other than people’s opinions on his timing of leaving USC (which I do believe to be coincidental), leads me to believe his great leadership and character qualities far outweigh whatever faults he may have. People who know him speak very highly of him as a person. His book is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read; beyond just being about football, it’s about being the best person you can be. None of the negative things I’ve read seem to ring true with what I’ve learned about him.

      He doesn’t try to control his players, that’s true. He’s a coach, not a babysitter. Do you really think he’s telling his players to be poor sports? Do you think he’s handing out PEDs to his players? I think he just recruits guys who are incredibly intense. Sometimes that intensity comes with a chip on the shoulder, and they don’t always represent themselves in the best light under certain circumstances. Not excusing poor sportsmanship, but at that level of competition I don’t expect players to always be totally calm, cool, and collected. And PED use? No, not cool. But again, these are grown men. They will face the consequences of their behavior. That’s not all on the coach.

      And honestly, I’ve never had an issue with anyone running up the score. I understand there’s sort of an unspoken rule that you play more conservatively when you’re winning with a large score gap, but 1) It’s a competition. If you get beat badly, you get beat badly. If your team has a bad game, it has a bad game. The other team shouldn’t have to play less than their best just because you’re not playing well. 2) It’s fairly rare that a score is so high that the other team is out of reach. In the NFC championship, the Seahawks scored 15 points in 44 seconds. Things can turn around quickly, and I don’t see anything wrong with scoring as many points as you can for insurance. 3) The goal isn’t solely to win the game. All players have records they’re working on. Dropping your team’s level of competition because the other team is way behind isn’t fair to the players on the winning team. It deprives them of the opportunity to add points or yards to their personal records.

      And I can’t believe I did it, but I tried Googling the volleyball player thing. Came up with nothing except that fact that his wife had been a volleyball player in college. I won’t bother again. I’m not sure what your personal beef is against Pete Carroll, but it’s uncool to be planting ideas like that.

      If you haven’t read his book, I highly recommend it. Either you’ve got a very limited view of who Pete Carroll is and what he’s all about, or he’s the biggest Scheisty Mcscheisterton on planet earth. I’m betting on the former.

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  5. Jermaine Kearse’s catch was miraculous… but Malcolm Butler’s interception was not miraculous, he was prepared for that and made an incredible play.

    1. Neither was actually miraculous. Kearse made an incredible play as well that required great concentration, coordination, and athleticism. Both were great plays – one just finished the game and one didn’t.

  6. Coach Carroll tweeted a link to this post. Very well said. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Win, lose or draw, gotta love ’em. GO HAWKS!!!

  7. Thank you so much Annie! I am sharing both your Seahawks blog posts with my whole family and will keep coming back to these as we raise our family. A sad end to the game but how many times have we been on the other side of an amazing interception, right? I say let’s make it three years in a row as NFC champs and Super Bowl attendees. People just look at the loss but they are still the second best team in the league-no mean feat!!! Go Hawks!!

  8. Thank you for your objective perspective! Although both of my kids are in their 20s now, I have very fond memories of tiny hand prints and “jam hands!”

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  9. In tournament sports, only one team gets to win their last game of the season. Everyone else has to learn to live with defeat. In life, if we strive to do and be our best, we will usually fall short, or we have nothing more to strive for. Well adjusted kids learn these lessons early through sports or other means

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