Football’s divorce lessons
We recently came across an article on The Good Men Project that got us thinking. The article, written by Tim Brown, is titled “Life Lessons from Football” and draws some insightful analogies. A few of Brown’s observations stood out as excellent life advice, but also advice that is relevant for men facing divorce.
There are a lot of similarities between football and divorce —the butting of heads, the need for professional referees and the ability of an underdog to triumph against the odds. Tim’s article goes beyond the obvious and deftly highlights some of the more philosophical lessons from the gridiron.
“Everyone has a plan until they get hit.”
Tim’s article drives this point home with his statement “though I’ve never played running back (I was a lineman), I’m sure they all think the same way: they are going to get the ball, juke left, outrun the defenders, score a touchdown, and get the cheerleader’s phone number. Then they get the hand off and there’s a huge middle linebacker who plants them on their back, causing them to re-evaluate why they decided to play ball in the first place.”
Men who come into our office are often dazed and confused after being blindsided by their wife —which can feel like getting trounced by a middle linebacker. They are facing the end of a marriage and it can seem like the ultimate detour on their life path.
Though we help thousands of men navigate through divorce, none of them expected divorce when they walked down the aisle. But like Brown says, “in life, we like to plan everything out and feel like we know how it turns out. That is, until we face a little adversity. Then we get to find out what our true character is.”
While divorce is certainly difficult —it is indexed as the second most stressful life event, behind the death of a loved one— we have seen many men show their true character through the divorce process. Strength and fortitude they didn’t even know existed can emerge and they are able to grasp the opportunity to begin a new chapter in their life.
“You have to want it more”
This point might be better titled “perseverance”, but perhaps Brown didn’t want to oversimplify the concept he was trying to convey. Brown’s statement holds a great deal of wisdom that is oft forgotten: “There may be things that we want today that we may not have. But we cannot give up; we must press forward and endure. We have to continue to have ambition and drive to strive. Our prior circumstances only provide us with challenges for our next steps.”
It is easy for men going through divorce to forget that just because their marriage is over, their life isn’t. Many times circumstances are beyond their control and the only thing that can be controlled is their reaction. Staying focused on the things that are truly important and valuable in their lives can help them press on and achieve great things.
A ‘Hail Mary’ will rarely win the game
This isn’t a point that Brown explicitly makes, but is an important lesson in life and in divorce. Who doesn’t love the thrill of holding your breath as your team makes a final last-ditch effort to pull out a win with only seconds left on the clock? The rush of relief and excitement that accompanies scoring the winning points as the time expires is unparalleled. But in divorce, and in life, executing a successful Hail Mary play is the exception, not the rule.
Family courts look for established patterns when deciding important issues like custody, residence, and spousal support. They will evaluate the plays of all four quarters (and sometimes your halftime show), not just the final few moments of the game. It is important to create a solid history of well-executed plays to ensure you receive an equitable decision in your divorce. Not moving out of the marital home and staying active and involved with your kids are two classic plays that will reliably get you a first down.
Epic examples of a Hail Mary winning the game and saving the day do exist, but this is not a tactic that you should rely upon in life, or in divorce. Preparation, determination, and having a team of supportive and knowledgeable people is the equation that produces consistent results.
Tim Brown’s article did an excellent job extracting some of the key lessons that playing and watching football provides. We highly recommend reading his article in its entirety.
What sports do you play and what life lessons have you learned from your participation?