Hello again! I hope you have all been well.
So, I want to start out with a premise. Poets are masters of perseverance. We know it up close and personal.
We persevere when we struggle to find the exact word or phrase, when we strive to find a publisher for our work and an audience of readers.
Well, this week I want to salute an unexpected partner in the quest for perseverance: The Grinnell College football team.
Now, before you think I’ve slid off the rails or enbibed in too much pre-holiday spiked punch, allow me to explain.
Grinnell College, in Iowa, is an elite school. It has one of the most stringent entrance requirements, among the highest SAT scores of applicants and largest endowments of any private school in the United States. It is where my daughter and son-in-law went to school and graduated. (Full disclosure: She could have attended the university where I was a professor for free but that is a story for another blog).
They also have a football team which I admire, I salute, for its perseverance. In the last five years, their record has been 8-42. And all with the same coach (take that Ohio State University and other big-time football schools!).
But it is the scores of those loses that I admire most. This season in consecutive weeks, they lost to St. Norbert’s College 91-0 (my son wondered out loud if St. Norbert’s beat the Las Vegas point spread), 53-7, 55-0 28-7 and 24-0. They also lost another game 55-14. If you are keeping score at home, they were outscored 278-28. I can only wonder at the exhaustion of the defense as they came off the field after each score. And what of the offense who probably never ran more than three plays at a time before punting, fumbling or being intercepted?
And here’s where my admiration comes in. How did they keep up their enthusiasm, let alone show up for a game each Saturday? What sort of pep talk did their coach give them each Monday when they returned to practice for the next week’s game? What did they say to each other to keep up their spirits?
I wish I could have been in their locker room to listen to it all and perhaps write a poem, no, an ode, to them.
Please don’t think I am making fun of this team. I am not. I am in awe of them. They play because they love the game, the process more than just winning. I’m sure that given the choice they would like to win as much as any other team. But they go out there on the field despite getting routed, week after week, season after season.
As a famous politician —no, not Donald Trump— once said: “I come not to bury Grinnell College football but to praise it.”
So, here’s to the future poets of the Grinnell College football team. They may not succeed in the poetry world, but they sure will have the futility part down pat!
Thanks for reading and hope to see you next week.