That’s Why They Play the Game


It’s all about the hype. The spin. The pundits. The experts. The talking heads. The facts. The data. The insight. The intangibles. The inside scoop. The interpretations. The trends. The analysis. The speculation. The predictions. The records. The historical contexts. The powers that be. The informed conclusions. Really?

No…not really.

Every year for two weeks leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, experts fill hours of airtime making the case for who will win the big game…a one-shot-deal to claim the NFL championship. They look at conferences, rankings, previous performances, position-by-position match-ups, who plays better at home or on the road, injuries, benchings, weather, scandals, human interest stories…if there’s a way to make the case for why each team will win, it is made…and it is made convincingly.

And long after the hype and hyperbole have been exhausted, it’s time for kickoff. And all the posing and posturing about the outcome goes out the window. Some favorites win. Some underdogs surprise. And while some general statements can be made about historical trends, perennial contenders and the have and have-not franchises, there is only so much rhyme and reason as to the outcome once the game begins. All the talk means nothing. Any given team can beat any other team on any given day. That’s why they play the game.

What does this mean for education? Well, we have a lot of self-interested, self-proclaimed experts putting their spin on what is happening and what is going to happen in classrooms. They have a lot of money, power and influence on their side…access to media and entertainment and corporate resources…it can certainly appear and sound like they know what they’re talking about. But where does the rubber meet the road in public education? In the classroom. All the politicians and philanthropists and administrators and data analysts may have their say, but at the end of the day it is the teacher and student who make it happen.

What can we infer from this?

  • People love the anticipation of the unknown…the adrenaline rush and the hype, but ultimately events play themselves out in the present moment.
  • Posing and posturing get a lot of attention, but in the final analysis it’s all about performance.
  • Money, knowledge and power provide advantages, but they do not control outcomes.
  • People can manipulate perceptions, but in the end reality always bears itself out.
  • Teachers, more than anyone else, will determine the future of education.
  • You can prove all the “experts” wrong.

Make a difference in the moment. Right now. Nothing else matters. You have control over your performance…your accomplishments…your legacy. No one else.

And there’s a certain satisfaction with proving the soothsayers wrong. Truman defeating Dewey for the presidency. The Jets beating the Colts in Super Bowl III. Everyday citizens bringing down the Berlin Wall. It didn’t matter who had the perceived upper-hand or who predicted what…all that mattered was the outcome.

So stop listening to the pundits. Get your game on, get back out there and give it everything you’ve got. Don’t let the voices on the sidelines get in your head. Sure they can have their say. But in the end, it’s up to you. You own the endgame.

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