Football. It’s like a religion in our home. We observe all Sundays and plan our schedules accordingly. We wear our Sunday best and make sure to show spirit. We rise to our feet, sometimes fall to our knees, and definitely when it comes to the Seahawks—pray.

To say my husband is just a Seahawks fan is reminiscent of my mom’s response when I said I’d be a plastic surgeon at five years old. It’s just not good enough. He’s such a Hawk fan that when he first joined an online fantasy football league, he drafted the whole Seahawks team. Now, when you create your “fantasy” team, you don’t draft every member of an already existing team. Instead, you try to recruit the best of other teams to create a winning one your own. See what a fan he is? That’s loyalty.

Now, I don’t know much about football nor am I a huge fan. Like other mates of the 12th man, we’re forced to watch. I figured that if I expect him to attend musicals and countless nonprofit events with me, I ought to try to enjoy and understand what he likes, too—even if the last five minutes of a game actually last 15.

Over the years, as I’ve sat on a barstool or on the couch next to him while he peers intently at the screen with the occasional outburst and more often than not, despair, I’ve come to understand some fundamental things about football. Now many subjects are used as metaphors for life: war, love, but especially sports. Coaches pump up teams in the locker room by elevating their sport to euphoric heights—motivating them to achieve life’s ultimate goals. Here, I’d like to share some life lessons I’ve gleaned from watching America’s favorite sport.

• You get limited—yet enough—chances to reach your goals. After that window of opportunity closes, you have to hand off the ball to someone else.
• A sudden injury can happen that takes you out of the game forever, so embrace what you have while you have it and play hard.
• Even though people are on different teams, they’re all players of the same game.
• There is always going to be someone just as good or better skilled than you. The point is not to focus on that. Instead, work on your own special set of skills and contribute that to the game.
• There are boundaries you can’t cross.
• Always dance when you reach a goal.
• “Studs” are those who in the fourth quarter, 6 points down with 10 seconds left and need a touchdown to win by one point, focus. Pressure doesn’t faze them as they calculate, throw the ball and win.
•  Uniforms don’t make the man, woman, or team; it’s the fight that does.
• A defensive team is as important as an offensive team. Maintaining a lead is as critical as earning it in the first place.
•  A lucky call can save a bad play.
• You’ll take a lot of hits throughout the game. Some worst than others. What’s important is to stay in the game.
• Defend those you are responsible for.
• You can’t play another person’s position, just your own.
• It’s important to be honest about your performance and take responsibility. Everyone has a bad day; own up and move on.
• A game plan is essential, but more important is the flexibility to think on your feet and make adjustments where necessary.
•  You need the right equipment to protect yourself from hits and charge forward. Suit up to move up.

And as I learned from my husband, being a dedicated and supportive 12th man from the stands is as important as being a player on the field. I might not be the biggest Hawk fan, but I’m his fan. Does that make me a 12th woman?

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