My love of college football began as a bit of a necessity. I figured out quickly that if I wanted to spend time in the fall with my then-boyfriend, now husband, I needed to learn the game. Not only did I “tolerate” Saturday afternoons in the fall; I became a full-on convert.
In the beginning (when I went to school at Virginia Tech)… times were a bit rough. We had a relatively new head coach, the team struggled and the games weren’t well-attended. At times, it was actually possible to follow the play up and down the field as a spectator, especially in upper portions of the East stands.
Over the next decade, we went to games as students and alumni. We watched the Hokies improve, and the stadium began to fill on a regular basis. We bought single-game tickets, and over time, watched from a number of different seats.
We eventually decided to invest in season tickets. We finally “moved on up” to the West stands with the alumni, watching the game from the top row, almost mid-field. It seemed like you could see everything from there, but we weren't very close to the action.
Over the years, thanks to the success of the team and a great coaching staff, the stadium was expanded from a capacity of roughly 52,000 to over 66,000. We had a chance to select new seats. We moved closer to the field – Row R, Section 12. This was our view:
It was a perfect place to watch the Hokies score, and in the unfortunate event the opposing team made it down that far, we could support the defense with plenty of noise. (I am louder than you might think…) Unfortunately, it was a bit tricky to follow along when the action was at the other end of the field:
Perspective is everything. When the offense was on the other end of the field, I couldn’t see if we were in the red zone, or even if we were in range for a field goal. When the defense was on, I wasn’t sure how loudly I really needed to yell, or how much I needed to worry that the other team might score. And fortunately, with the stadium expansion, we also gained a jumbotron.
I could rely on the response from the fans down the field, the announcers, and the big screen, to get a better idea of how things were unfolding.
I knew that while I may have watched a game from a particular seat or section in the past,* I couldn’t possibly know what the play unfolding looked like from that specific view on that particular day. I was only one of many thousands of people watching and participating in the game, and I could only personally view the game from one place at a time.
I began to see that this concept could be expanded to other aspects of life. I've always appreciated the big picture, and as a leader, it’s important to gain perspective from multiple angles of the game. We need to rely on our team members, our customers, and sometimes even strangers to provide insight that we can’t possibly get from a single seat. We watch replays, we plan alternative approaches, and we can be ready for any number of scenarios simply by opening ourselves to the input we gain from others.
In any event, there is always an opportunity to include our unique spin. We encounter any number of puzzles throughout our lives. Do we have all the pieces? Are we choosing the pieces we need? Are we putting these pieces together to formulate the best outcome for the situation at hand, and taking action to achieve this? This is where we can exercise creativity in any number of ways.
Success comes from cooperation and collaboration. With growth, it is increasingly difficult, and virtually impossible for any one person to do it all, as we can no longer traverse the field as football fans in Blacksburg. We must continue to invest in and cultivate relationships, knowing that achievement of our greater goals is dependent on our working together as a team. By sharing our perspectives and insights, and being open to listening to and learning from others, we can experience the game in new ways.
Today, my husband and I watch the Hokies play on TV from Atlanta. It’s not the same, but thankfully there are multiple camera operators to give us a greater view of the game. We make our own play calls and debate the merits of multiple options. We learn, laugh and celebrate together.**
Oh, and we of course begin with Enter Sandman. GO HOKIES!!
* Notice I did not mention that I actually sat, because that didn’t happen.
** And we still don’t sit down, and apologies to our neighbors, we still make noise!!
What are your favorite football (or other sport) traditions and memories? How have they carried over to other aspects of your life?