I gave it away. I flat out blew it. It was game point and I smashed the easiest shot I will ever have into the net. Let me back up and explain what happened.
I’ve played ping pong almost every Thursday with my friend George ever since I retired from teaching four years ago. One week we bat the ball around at our one-time breakfast room, the next week at the table in his cool basement. Playing ten or eleven games for an hour or so, we have been pretty evenly matched of late; though some days he wins 8 of 10 and other times I do.
This past week while playing at his place in Kittery Point, I had a short smash to win the game 21-17; which would have meant we would have split our first six games. The ball sat up with no spin, two feet above the net waiting for me to blast it into the next room. I blew the easiest smash I will ever have. Flat out rocketed it into the bottom of the net. I had the game and I “gave it away.” With the score still 20-18 in my favor, I shook off the miss and focused on the fact that I still had two more chances to win. Despite my focus, I lost those points to knot the match at deuce at 20-20.
Still in the moment, I split the first two points to remain at deuce; and we split the next two as we remain tied. Then George pulled off two winning shots and took the game. A sure win was now a loss. But here’s the cool part. Even though, I had blown the game, I just played on without any pissing and moaning about an opportunity lost.
Playing evenly in the following games, I eventually won the last two, though George had the upper hand for the day. And this brings me to Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks (my favorite coach). Those are the same Seahawks that “gave away” the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots (my favorite team) because some say of Pete’s play calling. In the final minute of play, he had the Seahawks pass rather than use their thought-to-be unstoppable Marshawn Lynch to run the ball in for a touchdown from the one yard line. To this day, Pete believes he made the right call.
Pete was skewered for his call. Mocked. Lambasted. Ridiculed. It has been called the worst coaching decision in Super Bowl history.
But… I learned in Who’s Moved On? This Guy in this week’s issue (August 3, 2015) of Sports Illustrated that after one morning of lamenting, Pete put the loss behind him. He used the crushing defeat as a learning experience to lead his team to someplace even better. When people say that was the “worst possible decision,” Pete says that was the “worst possible outcome.”
How did he move on? In his own words, You pour everything into your life into something and -it goes right, it goes wrong – it’s you. It becomes a part of you. I’m not going to ignore it. I’m going to face it. And when it bubbles up, I’m going to think about it and get on with it. And use it. Use it!
Last Thursday after putting the easy smash into the net, I called on my inner Pete Carroll to move on. Thanks coach.