Monday, September 28, 2009

To Punt or Not to Punt

Another week, another guest blog. I love reading the perspective of others! It keeps me encouraged on my own journey.....

This week, The Man steps in and gives his perspective. I am confident that after you read his post, you will instantly know why I love this man!!! He is so fabulous!!

For those reading on Facebook, remember to check out my official blog page at Enjoy!!

Football is finally back. Monday’s workouts at the health club are
always more robust with the ESPN highlights adding a needed adrenalin rush to offset the usual Monday reluctance to get back into the swing of things. Time to warm up on the elliptical, watch precious footage of Jessica Simpson’s ex-boyfriend losing in their new gazillion dollar stadium (with a scoreboard costing more than the old stadium), and crack open the latest Sports Illustrated.

While considering how the makers of the mammoth Dallas scoreboard failed to do some basic math to determine how high it should be in order to be missed by a punt, I found a story of a high school coach who did some statistical analysis and determined that punting was a mistake.. not just sometimes, but always.. . His team has not punted in over 2 years, and they don’t plan on punting.. ever.. They don’t bother trying to return punts either.. In case you are wondering if this is an act of sheer lunacy, his team won the 5A State Championship.. in the glorious state of Arkansas, home of your friend and mine, the Divorced Diva (which seemed like my lightning bolt from the sky to finally write a guest blog in this space).

Here is an example of some analysis the coached used to make his decision:

"If Pulaski has a fourth-and-8 at its own 5-yard line, Kelley said his explosive offense likely will convert a first down at least 50 percent of the time. If it fails to convert, statistical data from the college level shows that an opponent acquiring the ball inside the 10-yard line scores a touchdown 90 percent of the time. If Pulaski punts away (i.e., a 40-yard punt with a 10-yard return) the other team will start with the ball on the 38-yard line and score a touchdown 77 percent of the time. The difference is only 13 percent."

So simply put, the risk/reward ratio favors not punting, even in this extreme example.

Now, before the objectors storm the gates.. Yes, this team has an explosive offense.. Yes, it’s high school and the punters are not that great.. and yes, there are exceptions to this ‘rule’.. Having said that, the question still remains.. why is punting the ‘rule’ and ‘going for it’ the exception in today’s game, and not the other way around? Even using the most strict statistical analysis, the bottom line is that at every level of football, coaches and teams do not ‘go for it’ as often as they should.

The answer.. according to the article.. briefly put is ‘saving face’. A coach doesn’t want to have to face an administration having risked it on a fourth down and failing.. So instead of choosing an opportunity for victory, the coach and the team may fall short of their potential at best, or die a sure and slow death at worst..


Do any life applications come to mind when hearing this? If ‘going for it’ on 4th down can be likened to winning the game of life and relationships by having love, intimacy (knowing and being known), truth, trust, openness, vulnerability, understanding, etc.. and punting were likened to ‘throwing in the towel’ and temporarily or permanently giving up on those things, what does it mean to go for it, even on 4th down? When do we play it safe and punt, hoping to not lose ground, instead of going for it, to actually win the game?

Every Sunday on ‘my weekends’, I drop off my boys after spending 5 days with them. Every time, it’s hard, and I usually cry. If and when I talk to my girlfriend around that period.. I usually mention it.. I don’t know if it’s a flaw, and I am surely not trying to impress her, but I know it’s sharing a very real piece of how I am feeling, in real time. For all I know, it may be getting on her nerves by now, so it’s risky.. It would be much safer to not even bring it up, and there was a time I wouldn’t have done so. For you, it may not even be equivalent to a 4th down. For me, it’s like 4th and 10 at my own 30 yard line.. a risk.. And I’m still not sure it will get me the first down.

After months of dating, there comes the inevitable argument(s)(some of you out there only have 1 per relationship, so please bear with us who don’t get it yet!). She feels bad, really bad for her stuff, and her part, and is sorry and says so.. and there are walls between us.. I see my part as clear as day, but hey, why mention it? It’s safer to keep it out of the conversation. After all, I would have to admit that I was wrong about something I defended so convincingly before. Goodness, talk about risk! 4th down, 15 yards to go.. Just punt.. play it safe! I can just be really forgiving you know (and isn’t it nice that she will offload some of my guilt)! Should I let her know and admit that I totally blew it.. again? Should I let her know that I struggle in this area, and it might take a while for me to get ‘better’ at it? Shhh Punt! … she will never know!

The ‘defensive’ and ‘safe’ move, makes it harder to win… when winning is defined by things that make a relationship truly successful (intimacy keeps coming to mind – knowing and being known).. Revealing our true selves (especially our flaws) usually feels risky, and hiding our true selves usually feels safe, but in actually, the opposite is true! Honestly, from my experience, it seems more like every time I punt, it gets returned for a touchdown against me, and whenever I ‘go for it’, I make at least a first down, and sometimes even score a touchdown..

Now I will be the first to admit, that ‘going for it’ doesn’t always ‘work’ in the way we might want it to, or think it should.. For example, in a previous relationship much of my ‘openness’ and ‘vulnerability’ seemed to ultimately backfire (relationship ended).. But truth be told, the situation and risk taking revealed our incompatibility, resulting in the ending of a relationship that wasn’t meant to be.. a winning play in the grand scheme of things.. My hope and desire is that I would live more and more in a way to win the game, and less and less to save face, or to play it safe.. punting less, and going for it more..

Well.. you may be facing a 4th and 5 at the 50 yard line.. Are you going to punt, or go for it? What’s your play coach?

No comments: