Posted by: 15shekels | October 21, 2009

Now go out there and take it!

vwpTj_Z9v-c.gif“Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here, tonight. One game. If we played them ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them, and we shut them down because we can! Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players — every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time — is done. It’s over. I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw ’em! This is your time!! Now go out there and take it!” -Coach Herb Brooks, Miracle.

Any Given Sunday 3“Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives all comes down to today… Inch by inch, play by play, till we’re finished. We are in hell right now, gentlemen believe me, and we can stay here and get the s**t kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell….You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is football. Because in either game—life or football—the margin for error is so small. I mean one half step too late or too early, you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us…On this team, we… CLAW with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches that’s going to make the f***ing difference between WINNING and LOSING; between LIVING and DYING.” –Coach Tony D’ Amato, Any Given Sunday

400_miracle_090610_waltdisneypicturesMy favorite scene in any sports movie is never, in fact, the final game. Those are exciting, certainly, especially if it’s not a feel-good drama with a rigged outcome, so that there’s actually some suspense. But no—instead I wait for the inspirational speech just before the game. My adrenaline is at its highest while the coach dispenses the words of wisdom, motivation, and confidence that will best fire up the team. The words that will make the team want it so much that they cannot lose, no matter how ill equipped or broken down they are. At the end of the final scene, we sometimes forget that really, it’s those words that deserve all the credit. When those speeches are well written (or beautifully improvised from the heart), they are magical; they are better than any amount of spinach or steroids.

How come we never seem to get speeches like that in our real lives? If most sports movies are formulaic—conflict, inspirational speech, big win—real life is the opposite of formulaic. And there’s a lot of failure, even for the winners. Even for those of us who find ourselves on the receiving end of a coach’s inspirational speech, we usually have snickering, whispering doubts playing simultaneously in our heads: But I’m not good enough. I’m afraid of losing. Will I be worth anything if I don’t win? Ok, we can be heroes, but what if at the end of this, we’re just losers?

The truth is, those speeches make great movies, and perhaps if you’ve ever been on a winning sports team, you’ve experienced theAnyGivenSunday1999TheGistOliverSton_imagelarge rush of earning a spot as a hero. But there are threats built into those words, implications that if you don’t go out there and take it, if you don’t climb out of hell, if you miss that inch, you are worth nothing. Now, I know I sound like the parent of a 6-year-old who can’t hit in Little League, telling the coach that instead of playing a legitimate game, they should just declare everyone “winners.” Absolutely not. I hate those parents. I understand and celebrate that in sports, competition—and competition’s sidekick, losing—are a crucial part of the game. However, where do we turn when we don’t earn our spot? Not just in sports, but in life? How terrifying, to go through life trying desperately to earn worth and value, basically guaranteed to fail at least some of the time? The problem with these speeches—and the reason I love them—is that they raise the stakes. They heighten the pressure. They send the message that if we can’t come from behind to achieve a miraculous win, we are not heroes, not valuable. They make great movies. But they crush real people.

miracle on iceWhat if, as we went through life, competing in sports, shooting for our professional goals, and taking risks, we knew that our worth would have absolutely nothing to do with our performance. What if we knew that we were on the winning team, and that we would be invited to celebrate all of the glory of the win, even though we would fail along the way? The competitive voice in your head might be grumbling. But trust me, it’s good news. Because the truth is, when it comes to life, especially when it comes to facing God, we are all monumental losers. We are selfish, stubborn, cowardly, lazy, and manipulative. We have all sinned and lost our rights to glory. We cannot climb out of hell. Not one of us. Not even the sports stars who have just heard their magic-spinach-steroid speeches. And if we were earning our salvation or position before God, we would all lose. You think a Little League game in which everyone wins is disappointing? Try the game of life in which everyone loses. And yet someone comes along and wins for all of us:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:31-39

There’s an inspirational speech for you.

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Responses

  1. […] night of the best show on (direct)TV – besides Mad Men of course – be sure to read “Now Go Out There And Take It!” on Heather Gregorio’s 15 […]


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