I'm a football tragic and rugby league is my game of choice. It's been like that since I was a kid...I watch all sports but league's my favourite. And if girls could have played when I was young, I would have been playing. As it is, I watch it and I love watching it live.
Last night I was at a game. Mr E and I go for the whole day and watch all three grades - the U20s, the state cup, and the NRL game. I love the U20s game for a lot of reasons - there's often hardly any crowd so I don't get annoyed by idiots. The players are enthusiastic, they try the strangest things that sometimes payoff spectacularly. They talk a lot, which may involve a lot of swearing which shows their passion. It can be a bit unscripted with the genius of one, or a few, often changing a game.
In the first grade game last night, a guy was making his debut in my favourite position. He's 18, so young to be up there playing first grade. But I was a bit biased, I thought another player should have been given the job, so I watched and was rather scathing in my assessment of debut guy.
After about 20 minutes, he was sucking in big breaths, looking for a break, and really struggling. He hadn't done a lot except kick, and I was making rather unpleasant assessments of his ability and questioning why he was there. But, in reflection, he stayed out there for 80 minutes. I should have noticed how deep he dug and what determination he showed to push through his pain and keep going.
I was critical that he wasn't doing anything except trying to tell everyone else what to do, and no one seemed to be listening. But, maybe he wasn't calling the shots. As a spectator I shouldn't be making those judgements but I'm used to watching the guy who he replaced - and when he speaks, everyone jumps.
Yet that's what fourteen extra years playing footy gives you - you're an 'elder' and you've earned players' respect. I forgot about that in my character assassination.
Shame on me.
Learning takes time. Sometimes a long time. When someone is giving something their all, I should not be critical of their efforts. I should cheer for them, be pleased that they're given a chance and taking the opportunity with both hands. I should applaud when they push through the tough times and stay out there. I should admire their determination, their self confidence, their guts.
And if I look at myself, I'm guilty of this exact thing. I look at learner-me and I heap criticism on myself. I compare myself to much more experienced people and highlight all my faults. I need to stop doing that. I need to nurture myself, applaud my tenacity, grin when it gets tough and hang in there.
I need to remember this lesson. Debuting is just a start. A chance to learn. And even when you've been at it for a while, there's still the chance to learn, to improve.
And you thought I just watched the footy to perv! :)