Monday, September 5, 2011

It Takes Fans to Win a Game

I've noticed that maybe my blog should be called, "Teachers who Run and are Football Fanatics," because that is me. Yesterday my mom pointed out that I need to be passionate, not angry. I tried to argue that no anger was involved, but maybe it was, a little. My problem Saturday night wasn't with my team's performance necessarily, but with the lack of fan enthusiasm during the game. As I was cheering for the Bulldawgs and encouraging fans to cheer with me, it occurred to me that this is what we must do for our students too. You can give a child all of the tools he needs to succeed in school, but if there is no support from parents or teachers or someone, I think he would find it very difficult to succeed. I've been learning in my experience as a teacher and in my graduate school courses that it is important to make mistakes, even good to make mistakes. It is very cliche but just as true that you do learn from your mistakes. When a mistake is made we must not give up on ourselves or others, but fix the problem and push on.

At the Georgia Dome Saturday there were nearly 71,000 fans. Apparently Boise State was alloted 7,500 so this leaves UGA with almost 64,000 seats (minus the one guy there in a Gator t-shirt. I did not like that very much.) I could not imagine having that many people cheering for me. Sadly, I do not feel Georgia had that many people cheering for them. Our fans just were not behind the players 100%. We were so excited at the beginning of the game! We all knew we were playing the pre-season ranked #5 team in the country. Is this an ideal season opener? Some may say no because it is good to win your first game and build confidence. But some may say yes, because winning would be a huge boost. As a fan did I expect Georgia to win? YES! You must believe in who you support or it is much less likely for them to succeed. However, when so many of our fans started leaving at half-time it had to hurt the spirit of the team. Obviously, I have never been a player on a football field, but it is something I have dreamed of and can only imagine the rush one must feel as the fans cheer for the team. How awful for the fans to leave when the team is down. You can't leave your child or student when they disappoint you. You must keep loving them and supporting them. I certainly could not imagine running a marathon or a half marathon with no fans on the sidelines. I believe that's the reason I run 10K races faster than I run a 6.2 miles during training.  I'm not saying that if all the fans had stayed we would have won because there are a lot of other factors involved. But with no fans there is no chance of winning.  I truly do not think there is much that can be accomplished in life without support from others.

I am going to remember this as I teach this year. As a teacher it can be disheartening when students do not perform as well as you would like them too. I imagine this is the same feeling coaches get after a loss. While it's easy to blame the students for not studying or preparing as they should have, it's important to reflect and realize that maybe as a teacher (or coach) you didn't do all you could have done. While sometimes I wish Coach Richt would be more stern and aggressive with the players, I realize as I'm typing that is not the solution. That certainly is not the solution in the classroom. The solution is to remain positive and encouraging. Maybe then the solution is more rigorous practices, watching more game tapes, or more rigorous classwork and tutoring after school. The one thing I know is that continuos encouragement is key. I know the fans aren't the coaches, and parents aren't teachers, but I think it's just as important for students to have the cheering and praising too. So I challenge myself and you to be the positive, passionate encourager, not the fan who walks out at half-time.

photo from