My brothers, dad and I got together to watch the BYU-Utah game yesterday. With only three seconds left, down by four and needing a touchdown, BYU called a timeout to plan their final play. Not since 2003 had a college football team won on the last play of regulation. Everyone at our party was too excited and anxious to sit down, and we publicly wondered at the intensity the players must be feeling. After the game, BYU quarterback John Beck was asked what he was thinking as he walked on the field after the timeout. “I took a deep breath and said, John, you’ve prepared for this your whole life.”
As I read Beck’s answer this morning, and felt the confidence recalling his preparation must give him, I wondered what it is that I’ve been preparing for my whole life. Nothing came to mind. Raising a good family? Of course, but that’s not really what I was looking for. Part of me wanted to dismiss the question altogether, and dismiss sports for creating artificial goals, or discount the value of Beck’s preparation since it was only a game, but though I’m conflicted about sports, I don’t resent an athlete’s attempt to perform with excellence. What I liked about Beck’s quote is its drama. Something mattered, Beck would either succeed or fail, and he had imagined last-second plays his whole life. He had dreamt of last-second plays his whole life.
As for me, I seldom know if I’ve succeeded or failed, and I’ve certainly never been able to find out within a few seconds. Some of my goals are to raise good kids, and to be a better person, but my success or failure won’t be known for years. And while my goals may be more consequential than winning a football game on rivalry weekend, my goals are harder to measure, and lack bursts of drama. Three lead changes in the final four minutes? Having the hopes of a million viewers hinge on your final play?
This morning, as I stay home from church to care for our sick twins, I wonder, Is there drama in real life, or do we invent drama, whether through sports or stories, to fill an unmet longing?