New perspectives: Watching the football game from the sidelines

Carrigan Miller

Have you felt yourself going through the motions? I’d imagine that all but the most extraordinary among us have. It’s shockingly easy to take even the best things in our life for granted and find ourselves numb to (or at least less receptive of) the endless experiences, chances, choices and conversations that we glide through day-in and out. In short, we find ourselves stagnated and stalled out. In part, this is because boring is comfortable. Life in a rut is an easy default because it is accessible and simple.

As you could have guessed, I too am someone who was stuck in a rut, but who saw the light. How, you may ask? How can I too live a more fulfilling and interesting life like you, Carrigan? It’s actually not very complicated. All I had to do to enjoy the little things around me was change my worldview. And how? Even easier! I just went and tore up a ligament in my knee. Huh?

Playing football is one of my greatest joys in life, but I hadn’t analyzed this claim in years. Why would I need to? Football is great, and that’s that. Things look a bit different when you’re sitting on the sideline while your brothers are running down the field on opening kickoff. I think that any reasonable person has to ask themself, “Is this stupid?” Why wake up at eight in the morning during everyone else’s summer break to do something that could hurt or break me? I didn’t ask for it, but my perspective was changed, and accepted truths were now questions that had no obvious answers.

Like taking off a pair of sunglasses, a change in perspective can be jarring. Experiencing my first Macalester football game as a spectator was an unfamiliar experience. I found myself seeing things that I’d never noticed before—I honestly had no idea the referees were so close to the play. I felt, in a counterintuitive way, a reignition of my passion for the game. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, I didn’t know what I had till it was gone.
Rather than feeling myself move apart from the game, I could feel a simple, basic, animal-brain drive to strap on a helmet. I missed everything, even the worst parts of being an athlete, even the parts that I thought I hated.

Anything, even our favorite activities, done regularly enough, can start to feel like chores. It’s important to take a step back and look at these things as they truly are to us, to be brutally honest with ourselves, even about things that we consider obvious or immovable.

The catalyst for my perspective change was not something I was asking for. Every day I have at least one moment of sadness or anger or frustration, a moment where circumstances just feel unfair for no good reason. But I’m an eternal optimist, so I see the new perspective that I’ve gained as something that I could only have acquired through a misfortune. A blown out knee, or more broadly, any unfortunate event, has no objective weight to it. It’s a condition that we can interpret as we choose. I’d be lying if I said that I was excited to have to do physical therapy three times a day, but, by seeing a setback as a chance to grow, it becomes easier to make my way through it. My perspective doesn’t just dictate how the world appears, it dictates how I approach and interact with the world.

This year, The Mac Weekly Sports section is going to focus on exploring perspective. When you cover the same sports teams every year, it’s effortless to cover them the same way. Semester after semester, we develop a routine and a schedule. Our goal now is to think about and write about old things in new ways.

Sports writing is especially vulnerable to clichés, and so we’ll remain vigilant to make sure they don’t make it onto our pages—we will not keep our eyes peeled for them. The familiar narratives of underdogs and “must-win” games are going to be challenged. We write about sports because each writer here has been touched by the games we watch and play. That means that sports won’t just be discussed and reported on but analyzed, explored and debated. The passion we have for sports should carry over to the way we write about them.

We hope to take some risks this year and try some things we’ve never done before. We hope that you’ll join us in taking a fresh look at the sports we love. And most of all, we hope that we can offer a new perspective or two.