DVIDS – News – Take the time to get out and enjoy the game


“It’s the sport of kings.
Better than diamond rings.
— LL cool J

There’s just something about going out and running with friends. It’s like nothing else in the world. Scientists and doctors will tell you about endorphins or other chemical reactions produced by the body. I am neither a doctor, nor a scientist, nor an academic. All I know is that something amazing happens when you go out and really allow yourself to enjoy the moment, when nothing else matters but the game you’re playing. and lose yourself in the pure joy of the present moment.

I was able to do it on April 1 with nearly 40 other staff at Brooke Army Medical Center. They went to the Freedom Park field behind the USO’s Warrior Family Support Center for a flag football game. It was the highlight of the March “Building Courage and Resilience”. During this month, we have all had several opportunities to relax, reflect and recover from the many difficulties that we have all faced over the past few years. Because, let’s face it, it’s been a huge strain on the medical field. Dealing with a pandemic is no small feat and our people here have done it with a determination and a grace that is – quite frankly – inspiring.

So we went to the field. We had invited former NFL players to join us and a few accepted the offer and joined us as coaches. Rodrick Walker, who had been with the Houston Texans and is now president of the NFL Players Association San Antonio/Austin Chapter, and Mike Hendricks, who played for the Buffalo Bills during his NFL career, helped lead the teams. And me? I was the default referee for this match.

And that’s how I was able to gain a different perspective of the game as I went along. The staff members who were part of the teams were focused on their game, on their teammates and on the players of the opposing team. There were catches, runs, throws and strategies put into play throughout the game. But, I could see the pure liberation of all the players. I could see how much fun they were having and how much of the concerns they would have carried in the day had faded away. And I think that was the lesson.

The day was not just about the game. It was a big one, by the way. Both teams had fantastic concessions. In the end, one team only won by one touchdown when the clock ran out. There were legendary plays in the schoolyard from both sides throughout the match – heroic holds when it seemed there was no way for a reception and nearly impossible runs through the defenders with fingers narrowly missing their grip on the flagsticks only thanks to the runner’s skillful twisting and jumping. But the day wasn’t all about that. It was about the joy that the game brings. It was about liberation.

I’ve seen professional soldiers return to the best of who we all were when we were kids. I saw them laughing at each other, running – almost trotting – back and forth across the field with almost reckless abandon, and just laughing. Laugh with each other over a particularly well-done game or mock another player for something hilariously wrong. There was no malice in the laughter. There was just the acknowledgment of the little mistakes that we all learn from. It was as simple and pure as that. And I got to see it all from my point of view.

I saw the spectators enter into the same spirit of play, into the spirit of a shared childhood. It wasn’t about football. It was about getting out and playing, putting aside adult responsibilities for a bit while letting the child run around or boo and howl on the sidelines.

When the clock ticked, I finished the game. Nobody was happy to end it. There was a brief – again, childish – call for ‘five more minutes’ but, at the end of the match, the two teams lined up and clapped their hands as they crossed each other with a ‘Good game’ and a smirk or smile. The spell was broken, but I could see its effects lingering as they went away. There were “Oh, do you remember this room when…” or “Did you see when I…” conversations in excited tones that popped up as they walked to their cars. And they did it with a little more bounce than they had before the game started.

I like to think that the magic has lingered for a while, that when the players who are out for the game are stressed in their jobs, they can go back and dip their mental fingers into the memories and that the magic will help them to new. Because he is always there. Childhood, play, games and simple joys are still there. All we have to do is allow ourselves to remember it, allow ourselves to revel in it when we think our adult responsibilities are all there is in the world. We must remember that there is power in letting go, even if it is a brief release. It allows us to take a step back, and perhaps find a better grip so that the burden of being an adult is more bearable.

So go out and play sometimes. Get out and run – not for exercise, but just for the fun of running. Find an outdoor activity, not because it’s healthy or sensible, but because it’s fun. I think we all have to let go sometimes and get out there to rediscover the simple power of playtime. Those are just my two cents, though.

Date taken: 15.04.2022
Date posted: 15.04.2022 13:53
Story ID: 418605
Location: FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, USA

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