A friend forwarded me a link a little while ago.
I implore you to watch it. It’ll only take a minute, quite literally.
The back story is ugly. Just a few weeks ago, Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL, committed suicide at his home stadium, in front of the team’s general manager and coach.
It was a grizzly scenario, made all the uglier from his homicidal shooting of his girlfriend just minutes earlier.
Afterwards, it was the profound comments of quarterback Brady Quinn that most struck me –
“It got me thinking about the questions we ask each other about ‘how we’re doing’, are we being honest with each other, social networks, twitter, Facebook, half the time we’re more pre-occupied with our phone over the relationships in front of us.”
And I think about how much that applies to me and that it applies to us, as men who love sport but struggle to talk about our feelings.
I love the fact that sport brings us together. Tonight (Monday), two of my best friends and two of the best blokes on God’s green earth will be at my house ‘to watch the Lakers and the Bulls’.
As fellas, we need an excuse, a reason, to get together. An opportunity to talk about our feelings won’t be enough; we’re just not wired that way.
What comes with the game is an opportunity to catch up, see how the other/s is doing, delve into the issues and shenanigans which may be permeating individual’s lives and catch up on family matters, including our kids. Alongside that is the good-natured heckling, genuine anger at shocking referees (who were great last night in the Lakers win) and big calls regarding teams’ or players’ futures…
We need intentionality
It’s just that too often the first part of that paragraph doesn’t happen. We can get so consumed by the nuances of a game, sport or season that that we lack the intentionality required to genuinely seek out the other. Our conversations revolve too much around ‘the excuse’ to come together – the game – and we forego the depth of relationship that is right in front of us.
Brady Quinn’s comments serve as a stark reminder that if we don’t care enough to find out, there may be major issues going on in people’s lives, friends and family who are loved and dear to us, and we may not have a freaking clue about any of them.
We need to be honest and open with our own issues and insecurities, with the right people of course, but bottling them up inside as blokes are ‘so good’ at doing is doing you, your family and your mates a disservice. So if things aren’t so great, you’re no less a man in saying so.
But guys, be aware that you may have to do a little work to scratch through the surface. Your mate may be embarrassed or even ashamed of what may be going down in his life. A “How’s it going?” when you first arrive doesn’t cut it. You don’t have to be their counsellor or a shoulder to cry on, nor does your whole night have to be one long d&m. But just give a little damn bit to show you care.
Quinn didn’t talk about sport as being the distraction. He referenced the usual suspects – our phones, social networks, Facebook, Twitter and so on. As well as sport, add to that any number of factors that have been dissected in these pages the last couple of years – clothing, health and fitness, making the insides and outsides of our homes look fabulous, an obsession with celebrity and pop culture, accumulation of wealth etc etc … we all have our poisons, boy or girl.
I’m encouraged by Quinn’s comments to be a better friend. To not just let the time fly by unintentionally. Ask a couple of questions. Give a damn. Share about some things which are going on. Be honest, gasp … vulnerable even.
The games are the great excuse to get together. We can give so much more.