James Anthony Ellis Editor, Legacy Magazine
I can hear the play-by-play now.
Here we are in San Diego at this wondrous outdoor stadium, standing room only. The teams are pitted against each other, mighty warriors after the all-important victory that will crown their team the champion of this night. Smith dribbles the ball up the field. He is amazingly using his non-dominate foot. Jones is on his right. He swoops in with full force, trying to halt Smith in his tracks and steal that ball away.!
Such an important game. Though we play it all by the books and by the rules – for this is an honorable battle – there is intensity, there is aggression, there is desire.
There is competition.
The teams were just assembled in the past few minutes – counting off 1-2, 1-2. The “ones” on one side; the “twos” on the other. Perhaps shirts and skins to distinguish one team from the other. Or perhaps just a memory of who first stood on one side of the line.
This is a routine view of one of those odd and outrageous fun-and-physical activities within the circles of Mentor Discover Inspire (MDI), an international men’s organization.
It is here in this circle of honor where men can gather to challenge each other to be their best, to hold each accountable to a path of success, to have fun, to compete, and to – yes – participate in the most important game ever!
The most important game ever – be it a game of corn hole, three flies up, whiffle ball, football, one-stick field hockey or – as this initial play-by-play revealed – left-footed soccer.
Now you may wonder how could a silly game, made sillier by unorthodox rules, be so important here?
It is because it is played by men who want to win.
There is something within men that can make any sort of competition THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME EVER.
It wouldn’t matter if there are 60,000 people in the stands, or a lone beach-walker with a dog watching on. It wouldn’t matter if the championship is awarded with a Lombardi Trophy or the bragging rights of the winners. On some level it just doesn’t matter.
It’s a competition, and it’s happening now, and the men are being challenged by an opponent, being called to play at their best.
It’s a chance to be at their best or show up less then.
For this reason, men will participate and complete with free abandon at something as apparently meaningless like four square, blindfolded frisbee golf or butt basketball.
I even remember getting that choked-up feeling in my burning throat when my team would lose kick ball at recess in 4th grade.
It meant everything – those 20 minutes out on the playground.
My sister would say at the time, “Gosh Jimmy, why do you take it so seriously? It’s just a game.”
Just a game?
This was life as a youngster boy. It wasn’t just a game. It was the most important game ever.
And now – men will still compete in our men’s circles – and give their best wanting to win! Watch the faces, see the desire, feel the heat. It is there.
Perhaps this desire isn’t really about any ethereal bragging rights, or to stand above another. Perhaps it’s rather designed to continue the process of refining and defining a “self” that needs to constantly improve.
To improve and excel, so that “the man he has always wanted to be” can truly arise.
Arise for the good of his career, his job positions, his progression through the ranks, and the good of his family, children, significant other and those he positively influences in his life.
Life. In the end, life – the most important game ever.