As the fall season officially hit full-stride this weekend with the football team embarrassing Bowdoin, I quickly underwent a series of sobering thoughts. Here was my train of thought. If it seems slow and disjointed, I apologize. I think it must be due to the fact that I take all the “easy” classes and sit in the back, with the rest of the athletes, asleep, as the administration would like you to believe. In addition, despite my easy class selection, I have learned some things here at Williams; there is nothing easy about this place, and by nothing, I mean nothing, if you know what I mean.
Now that I have blown my chance for a date to Perry Prom (as if I had a chance to begin with, right?), let’s get back to my train of thought:
1. Wow, this will be the last first football game I see while a student at Williams.
2. Geez, this will be the last Homecoming football game I will attend as a student.
3. Man, most of these guys are probably going to play their last football games this year.
4. Holy cow, this will be my last season of basketball.
5. Whoa, for the vast majority of seniors, this will be the end of our competitive athletic careers.
Really, like our professors like to lie to us, it is a simple five-step process. It is not like these thoughts hadn’t popped into my mind before, but the whole complexity of the situation seemed to overwhelm me and inspire me to write. When you have written as many bulls#@* papers as I think we all have, you learn that when inspiration strikes, you take advantage.
In the movie “Cocktail,” my buddy Tom Cruise says something to the effect of “Everything good comes to an end, or else it wouldn’t end” (Cruise, “Cocktail”) â€“ God forbid I don’t cite properly. These words seem so simple; it is Tom Cruise after all, yet it took me a minute to figure out what was really being said. I hate to admit that I am subscribing to lines from “Cocktail,” but I think an inherent truth lies in these words.
Many of us have been playing our chosen sport(s) since we were five or six years old, and to be able to continue an athletic career in college is no small feat, regardless of the level. Investing 15 years or more of your life in one thing, depending upon how you look at it, is either a great accomplishment, or an even greater waste of time. I choose to think that some of my fondest memories occurred on the court or field. I wouldn’t trade those for anything, even a date to Perry Prom (ok, I’ll stop. I know, I passed the sympathy exit about five miles ago).
The funny thing is the things that I’ll remember. Come December, I couldn’t tell you what we did in practice the day before. But I can recall other moments with the most intimate of detail like a permanent slide show that I can play in my mind at any time. That is what I will remember: the moments, which are hopefully still a work in progress.
So what happens? Does a big curtain fall and we take a bow? Unfortunately, I think it will be slightly less dramatic. Some may not even know when they are stepping onto that field for the final time. Ultimately, I think my boy Tom may be right that all good things end. The final buzzer sounds and the clock hits zero. We will walk off the field and that will be it. But this may be the exception to the rule, the one good thing that never ends.
I would like to think that my athletic experiences will continue to live for a long number of years. Not only will I have those moments, but I will have the lessons, the life lessons. Sure, it sounds corny, and yes, it is a little early in the year for such a serious article. But it’s true. Athletics give you something that can’t be learned anywhere but on the field or court: the teamwork, the determination, the hard work, the sacrifice. . .I could go on and on. No other person or place or thing can replicate those lessons.
These lessons will not suddenly disappear once we walk away from the field. They will be with us when we get our first job, whether that is in six months or six years. They will be present when we are raising our own children, and the fact that I just mentioned raising children is a little scary. Scratch that, it’s very scary. The point is they will affect every part of our life. Let’s hope we have learned these lessons well. And, as a group of seniors, let’s go out with a bang.