You Know What To Do

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost their first game of the year yesterday evening. To be honest, it wasn’t pretty from what I understand. I spent no time viewing the black-and-gold eleven run up and down their empty stadium field as there were higher priority items on my to-do list. Mainly, supper. An evening meal from Cracker Barrel followed by errands necessary to prop up the week ahead: an ordinary six days before my next day off. One-hundred, forty-four hours of believing I’m doing the best I can with what I have.

As all activities wound down and my friends – dishes, ladles, and lids – began to dry in preparation for their duties, social media started to ping away on my phone. One final check of the score, 23-17, confirmed my suspicions from what I saw all over Facebook friends’ pages. Our beloved Steelers lost. They are longer holding hands with the magical ’72 Dolphins undefeated season. Worse yet, a no-name, no longer Redskin, ‘Washington Football Team” is responsible for that solitary “1” standing alone across from two “1”s in their, now, 11-1 record. So many reasons for the loss spattered all over the comments. None change my life. In nine hours and thirty minutes, I’ll lift a concession window and open my business to start six days of sales. No time in my life to figure out the hows and whys the Steelers came up six points short last night. I have to assume they did the best they could with what they had.

All this because I saw a simple statement at the end of a friend’s post on FB … “We should try to do things the best way we can”.

No surprise to anyone it was framed around the masking, Covid debate. There are too many information discrepancies floating around on droplets either too heavy to inhale, or too irrelevant they evaporate immediately after facing some heat. Her point was simple: Do your life thing the best way for you based on the information you have …. how you understand it to be. Well, at least this is how I think the statement should be interpreted, anyway.

However pleasing that statement is on the sidelines, this is the line of scrimmage where our opposing opinions seem to clash. We have our team of aggreable members wearing the same home jersey in the huddle. Across from us, there is a defensive team consisting of an equal number of 11 players opposing our 1 unified position. They, as well, are sweating this out … hoping to steal back an ironic, elusive, yet fungible, pigskin emblazoned with the initials N.F.L: Nobody Finds Life to be an absolute, yet this is what the game looks like from any casual observer sitting apart from covid-affected, no beer lines, empty stadiums.

Coaches on the sidelines – not so disguised as politicians, social media pundits, and in-person/on-line friends and family members all calling in plays to those in the game – are hoping their team will win the day. Celebrations muted, of course. as there is always another game to play in a week or so. Another team, another day.

See here’s the playbook, though. Each team is looking at a book of X’s and O’s deciding on a strategy … how to play the game. How to win the ultimate prize: the games of all games: surviving day by day until this pandemic is over and we can get back to life as normal…

It may not not look like it – glancing through all the dripping sweat and sardonic tiptoeing on the sidelines – but everyone is doing the best they can. Between unforeseen emotional and medical injuries and referees calling separation penalties, each huddler is doing his and her job as assigned by his or her individual life coach. That coach being the drive to be a good person. An individual who wants what’s best for everyone else even if it means that player across from them has a helmet on of a different color, race, gender, nationality, … or, may not have a mask firmly attached.

Yeah, so cool a team with no name at present broke up the Steeler’s bid to become the first complete undefeated 16 game season team in 48 years. A team we should celebrate today. Not only because they made it difficult for me to structure that first sentence, but also because we need to start thinking of ourselves being on the same team. All of us. Without a name.

Sure, I can get upset and rant about the far right-wing’s ridiculous position as noted a few days ago. We can, honestly, take a position we find offensive and scream from the upper tier. This is still an America where opinions do matter.

Overall, however, to be so divided over this pandemic is hurting our chances to shake hands at the end of the game – to be good sports and show our kids how to play a game as adults. With respect and kindness. To have them toss that football with us in the backyard – and not feel penalized by a burden of woes and regrets – is a wonderous unmasking of possibilities for them.

The Steelers were defeated. We don’t have to be. They lasted as long as they could before, well, fate stepped in and stopped them short by six points. Sure. Mike Tomlin is disappointed. I’m not, really. It’s only a game and I’d rather have them lose one now than go undefeated, 16/0, then lose a game in the playoffs. Will they win the Superbowl? Geesh, I don’t know. This year, who know anything, really.

Let’s keep on keeping on doing the best we can. Opposite opinions we can’t avoid. Wear your home Jersey with pride and just be nice to one another. Shake hands after each game, even if it gets a bit ugly at the scrimmage line for sixty minutes, follow the rules the best way you know how.

Oh, and for goodness sake, please take a shower afterwards.

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