I live in Seattle, so it should probably go without saying that I’m a Seahawks fan. How can I not be, especially as I’m an owner of one of our city’s professional sports franchises? (After all, we owners should stick together, no?) As a Seattle Storm owner, I have my own memories, of both crushing, season-ending defeats and confetti-littered arenas filled with deliriously happy fans. As a former competitive athlete, I have additional ones, of being cut from teams repeatedly, of being told I wasn’t good enough, and of hearing another voice inside my head, whispering that I have gotta show those nay-sayers how wrong they are and calling me to a different future, one where I will prove them so totally wrong.
But really, I’m not a Seahawks fan because I own a team or because I’m a former athlete. Truthfully, I’m not a fan because I love, or even like, football. I’m one because the team’s attitude and approach, especially their quarterback’s, inspires me every time I watch them in action and listen to Russell Wilson speak.
Call me corny, that’s okay, because I watch commercials and they stir me. Sometimes I laugh, occasionally I cry. But the ones that star Russell Wilson make me listen and nod my head in agreement.
Because Russell Wilson knows all about dreams. I love listening to his ads, ‘cause he understands that they not only are the essence of life, but also belong at the center, where you have the best shot at “making” them, as he says, and where they can make the most impact, on you and on the rest of the world.
Athletes provide such gripping visuals about one of humanity’s most admirable and important features: our ability to set goals, pursue them through thick and thin, fall short (repeatedly), finally break through, and, best of all, win. I would assert that our ability to envision a future that does not yet exist and to work against all odds to transform whatever impossibility we have dreamed up into not just plausible but reality is the ground zero of all human progress. Heck, it’s more important than opposable thumbs.
It’s true that most of us don’t win the big kahuna, however each of us might define the top prize. That doesn’t matter. Each of us has the chance, and some might say needs the chance, not just to have a dream, but to pursue a dream. And sports of all kinds and at all levels of play give us ample opportunity to figure out this process for ourselves, both as spectators and competitors. They give us countless replays of this critically important cycle of life that is available for each of us not just to experience vicariously, but to live in our own real time. Watching a game provides a daily cheerleading exercise for each of us to take our own dreams seriously and get going on pursuing them.
That’s got to be one reason why the vast majority of Americans are not fans of just one team or another, but rabid fans. Maybe some of that winning will rub off? Maybe it’s possible to channel some of the grit, the passion, the determination that we hear on the radio, see splashed across our big screens, or witness right before our very eyes.
Ok, maybe not, but maybe watching from the sidelines is a form of practice, a precursor to our stepping out of ourselves and inching our own dreams forward. As Russell says, guard your dream, work on it a little every day. Maybe today’s work consists of being inspired by that amazing fourth quarter play in last night’s Monday Night Football matchup of Seattle vs. Washington. You know, when Wilson, seeking to evade the numerous giants out to sack him, ran backwards a full fifteen yards behind the line of scrimmage then, off-balance and not set, unleashed a 15-yard throw back to where the play started, which that incredibly adept and versatile receiver, Marshawn Lynch, snagged. Lynch then turned and dodged defenders for nearly thirty yards, until he was finally tackled at the 22 yard line. Even I, a football ignoramus, knew that was an UNBELIEVABLE play.
Maybe tomorrow there’s another baby step for us to inch our own dreams forward, feeding off the inspiration of an expert dream maker. Maybe some of us can take our own field and get into the fray, mix it up a bit, risk getting sacked as we work at making our own first down.
Whatever it takes. Guard your dream. Don’t let it die without getting a chance to live first.