Enter Into Joy

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The lesson in LSU 16 TENN 14

I was watching the end of the LSU-Tennessee football game and was reminded yet again of how thin the line is between success and defeat.

If you didn't catch the game it was one of the zaniest endings in recent college football memory.

LSU was trailing Tennessee by 4 at home. They had a 4th and long and converted. Then they achieved another quick first down. Now LSU had the ball 1st and goal on their two yard line. The Tennessee defense makes two great plays and keeps LSU out of the end zone. The clock is running down and you can tell LSU is confused and have no idea what the play is. You can feel the excitement rising on the Tennessee side, the coach is waving his hands, the players are standing up starting to cheer.

Finally, LSU snaps the ball with two seconds left, the quarterback misses the snap, the ball goes sailing ten yards, and Tennessee recovers the ball.


The Tennessee coach and the LSU coach shake hands at midfield.

State troopers trot onto the field to protect the Tennessee side.

Unruly LSU fans start booing loudly at their team and throwing things.

It was the upset of the year.

Until, in the midst of all of this commotion, a referee whistle sounds.

They are reviewing the play.

I remember thinking, what could someone upstairs had seen that we all had missed?

Clearly both teams, both coaches, the crowd, and the announcers had all thought the game was over. There were no flags on the play - what is going on?

The head official trots out back onto the field.

"Illegal participation, on the defense, 12 men on the field, half the distance to goal, replay 3rd down."

Tennessee had 13 men on the field instead of 11. Their team had to rush back onto the field to redo the play.

And of course, this time, LSU makes the touchdown and wins the game by 2 points - no time left on the clock.

The look of amazement on the LSU side and utter pain on the Tennessee side were case studies in life.

The truth of the matter is that even after LSU touchdown, it felt like they should have lost. It felt like Tennessee deserved to win. As a fan you were left looking for an explanation; left with a vague feeling that the better team had somehow been cheated.

However, the thing I love about sports is, as the great Rasheed Wallace once said, "Ball Don't Lie".

Tennessee violated the penalty, even if no one noticed and it didn't really have any influence on what should have been the final play. LSU did run it in for the touchdown. Game over. Winner. Loser. Ball don't lie.

How many moments in our lives are like the ending of this great football game?

How many times have we converted on a 4th and long, just to see it all slip away at the goal line? How many times have we thought we had the game won, just to make an extremely stupid mistake that makes us start all over?

And how many times have we felt we have lost, but then by some act of grace that has nothing to do with ourselves, do we get one more chance and are finally able to achieve our goal?

One of Karen's pieces is inspired by the quote "Sharp like a razor's edge is the path...difficult to transverse" from the Kathe Upanishad.

I am constantly amazed at the thinness of the path. How it can come down to one phone call, one handshake, one email, one facebook status. How we might fall off the path depending on whether the sky was overcast, on how social we felt like being at a party, how we interacted with a significant other the night before.

It is amazing how the smallest of things have the biggest impact between victory and defeat. And perhaps more importantly, how you can do the same exact thing and one day you are crazy and the next day you are a genius.

No one knows this better right now than both of the squads on LSU and Tennessee.


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