Friday night football. The home team (our heroes) have played brilliantly and are solidly in the lead. The coach wisely takes most of the Varsity players off the field and sends in the JV team. It’s the middle of the fourth quarter. JV plays like, well, JV and on fourth down we find ourselves on about our own ten yard line with nowhere to go. Continuing in the wise vein, the coach sends in the punt team.
The ball is snapped. The punter catches the ball and takes a step to kick. And then for some reason decides to run. To clarify, this punter is not a runner. He is a punter. He has 16 yards to get to the first down marker and in no time at all we have a smooshed punter. The coaches stare in disbelief. The crowd comments authoritatively. The foe takes over on downs. They score, we win the game, and the crowd continues to comment.
Much of the crowd’s commentary focuses on the positive. It was a well coached game (it was), the players looked good (they did), isn’t it a lovely night for football (it was). But when talk turned to the non-punt (as it inevitably did), the opinions were more, um, well, of the “what a boneheaded thing” variety. Which you can’t really argue with because it was a boneheaded thing to do. Even those of us who are not football gurus were pretty clear that when you are that close to your own end zone and have that far to go and are not known for pushing through defensive players, it’s just not “run for it!” time.
Here’s the interesting part. Pi came home from practice yesterday and told us what the coaches said about it. After they asked the “what were you thinking?!” type questions, they said to the punter, “What if you had made it? How would we have explained to the opposing team coach that being that far ahead at that stage in the game we went for a punt fake?”
Wow. Hadn’t even thought about that.
They’re right of course. It would have been terribly unsportsmanlike to pull a fake at that point in the game. And part of high school football is learning sportsmanship. (And how to sing the fight song.)
As we talked about it over dinner tonight, we realized that none of us had thought about it from that point of view. As soon as someone pointed it out, we got it. But we hadn’t even considered what the impact on the other team might have been if things had been less smoosh-ful for our punter.
It was a good reminder to think about things from different perspectives. It’s so easy to see things from a convenient or habitual place (“what was he thinking?—our team should pound them into the ground!”) that it takes real effort to see through to some of the more important (or at least different) aspects.
Here’s to seeing something from a different perspective today.
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