Not my usual blog, but here we go!
In America, Black Friday is traditionally the day after Thanksgiving during which retailers make enough profits from Christmas shoppers to transition from the “red” to the “black” bottom line, accounting wise. However, if you are a Tar Heel fan in 2022, it is the day your football team had trouble transitioning from the red zone to the black scoreboard.
I won’t bring up the number one ranked UNC basketball team, but let’s just say that this year Black Friday has a whole new meaning.
The day after Thanksgiving, my UNC Tar Heel fell to the NC State Wolfpack, a state football rivalry that is as pure as they come. As I pondered the game, yet more importantly the sentiments that followed the Wolfpack win, I thought I would share a few observations.
Just to give you some important background information, I am a two-time alumnus from UNC, and my oldest child and his girlfriend are currently sophomores at NC State. This is the child who pulled for UNC his whole life until he committed his heart to the black and red and brought all his UNC shirts to me and said, “Here, Mom, I thought you might want these.”
And yes, we all watched the rivalry game together! Because a family that prays together stays together, even on game day.
So, what did this year’s rivalry game reveal?
1. Practice like you are the starting quarterback. As a former collegiate athlete, I remember my coach repeatedly saying, “Perfect practice makes perfect!” While these are just “kids” out there sacrificing their bodies and their time, they have to approach every practice and every game like they are the go-to-guy. Just ask the fourth string NC State quarterback who helped lead the Wolfpack to victory! When guys are dropping like flies with injuries, you better come ready to play because you practiced that way all week. In football and in life, we must be prepared to lead our team, our families, our coworkers, our friends, etc. to victory because we set our minds to victory and put our faith into daily practice.
2. Even a head coach needs a Head Coach. NC State’s coach, Dave Doeren, a man who had been threatened and stalked recently by a former player, gave thanks and all the glory to God, as his voice cracked with emotion, after their victory. As I watched his red eyes well up with tears of joy, I thought that’s worth loosing any game to hear God receive the glory on national television by a humble leader of young men. Then my eyes welled up with tears as I watched him embrace his son and his wife. Yes, we get a little caught up with life and sports sometimes, but God and His Word are the best Head Coach with the greatest Game Plan for the ultimate Victory. Thank you, Dave, for reminding us that faith, family, and even football are for the glory of God.
3. These are impressionable young men who are still figuring out WHO they are. Ask any professional athlete if they understood their full identity in college, and I bet you get an audible chuckle and an “Oh, man!” These are young men who are just trying to figure out what and where to eat their next meal without momma nearby in the kitchen. They are riding the roller coaster of emotions from academic deadlines to athletic expectations to personal circumstances to the media’s daily shifting opinions. Performance and perfection are fierce competitors against personal peace and patient perseverance. I pray for these young men, just as I pray for my own children, that they come to know WHO they are because they understand WHOSE they are.
At the end of the game, as the Wolfpack fans in my home celebrated their win, we shook hands, hugged it out, and I went to the kitchen to figure out dinner. Because when your impressionable and hungry college kids are home for Thanksgiving break, they can trust that momma will be in the kitchen.
Faith, family, and football make a pretty good team when we give God all the glory for who He is; even on Black Friday.