My Love of Football Has Very Little to do With the Sports Itself
I’ve been asked why I obsess so much about pro and college football, why I love the sport so much and what it means to me. I find the game entertaining and highly dramatic but there is so much more to it.
I was not much of an athlete growing up but I tried, and the game of football taught me a lot of lessons. In particular, I learned that giving up because something is difficult, is unacceptable. I learned that lesson in high school, all thanks to football.
I’d played the sport, poorly since the 8th grade and I wanted more out of the game, I wanted to be better, I wanted to play more and I wanted to win. To that end, I spent the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, with my Dad, working on my body, my strength and my speed. I was in the gym all summer long, dedicating myself to overcoming certain genetic shortcomings.
When it came time to report to the first team meeting, I did so, in the best shape of my young life. We gathered into a room, all the players, from all the teams, freshman, JV and Varsity huddled into the cafeteria for a speech by the team coaches.
In that meeting, a coach saw me and called me out in front of everyone, asking where I’d been all summer, why wasn’t I in the gym? I was embarrassed and unable to explain that I’d been working as hard as ever, to become an athlete. I had two choices after that meeting, I could go find the coach, explain myself and assure him I’d dedicate myself to the work, in his way, or I could quit.
I quit that day, and I’ve regretted that decision ever since. I’m 42 years old and there is not a week that goes by, that I don’t think of the mistake made. In the grand scheme of life, high school football is not that important but I wasted an opportunity to prove something to myself and others.
I carry that regret with me and use it as a weapon in my adult life, I don’t let the doubts of others dictate what I am capable of. I use people’s lack of belief in me as a driving force. I can’t be told that I can’t do something, I won’t allow it and I don’t quit on anything because it’s hard.
Twice in my adult life, I’ve transformed by body from overweight, to in-shape, in one instance losing over 100 lbs. I also got my dream job hosting the Ethan and Lou Show, after being told it would never happen, by many people. I remember every person who told me I wouldn’t get this job; I remember what they said and the dismissive way they said it.
I've been doing what I love for over 20 years and have seen the fruits of my labor in so many ways. I've met so many people I was a fan of from athletes, to actors to musicians. I've stood on-stage in front of 2,000 people and made them laugh. I've been part of countless creative projects and l get to tell jokes and write for a living, I get paid for this. If I allowed self-doubt to cripple me, the way I did with football, none of that would have happened.
As a public person, I’m often called out by people for something, they think I cannot do. I pay close attention to those remarks and very little attention to complimentary words. My wife would argue that I’m allowing negative, jealous people live rent free in my head. The way I look at, I’m storing up ammunition for achieving my next goal.
I still have personal and career goals that drive me every day. I use my decision to quit football as a reminder, that giving up is not an option because if I do, I will regret it. If I quit, I won’t have the chance to prove things to myself and won’t be allowed to prove others wrong.
My love of football is complicated but it’s a real tool for self-improvement. I use it for entertainment and as a reminder that quitting on yourself, leads to nothing good. Go ahead and tell me I can’t do something, tell me I’m incapable and root for me to fail, I want you to.
I wrote this for me, but more than that, I wrote it for Louis, Christopher and Lucas and Vida, my children. The boys are reaching a certain age where it’s time to decide what kind of adults they want to be and Vida will be there one day. I want them to have belief in their potential and never submit to their own self-doubt.
I’m proud of how I’ve used this poor decision of mine, as a way to better myself and remind my family that pushing forward is worthwhile.
Quitting becomes regret.
P.S. If my words didn't bring it home, the picture of me in my pads should, I wasn't physically fit to play ball. If I could go back in time and tell that doughy child anything, it would be this, the word "can't" is the only thing between you and what you want.