UNcommon Sense: 'I'm a Fan'

by Corey Holland

I have always been very competitive by nature. It didn’t matter if it was something I was gifted at, like running or something I had very little skill at doing at all, like golf, I wanted to win.

If I am honest, I think it was mainly driven by the hate of losing more so than the love of winning. I will admit, this isn’t the healthiest way to exist. It has often caused me to not appreciate experiences of success.

Instead, I tended to hyper-focus on the losing. My competitive nature has led many times to my not being the best version of myself. I would like to think I have fully matured from this reality but now I see my competitive nature living out in my fandom. I am a proud Oklahoma State University fan. This has led to my spending many hours in front of the TV and attending events. Sadly, it has also led to lots of disappointment. To date, OSU has not won every national title in every sport, every single year. As a fan, that is my expectation. Whether it is realistic or not, in my fan mind, I have a right to be upset when OSU doesn’t always win.

Last week, a former Outlaw had a rough day during his college football game. It was likely the worst performance of his entire career. The young man had put in many hours to perfecting his craft. He endured hours in organized practices and even more hours practicing on his own. He did this because he realized hard work is important. Giving his best effort is important. His being prepared, mentally and physically is important.

Yet even with all that work, the young man learned a valuable lesson.

There are no guarantees in life. Sometimes you work extremely hard and you lose. Sometimes your best on a given day isn’t good enough.

As fans, we see this outcome much differently. We refuse to accept any hint of losing. Instead, we set our focus on finding blame. We are quick to judge, condemn, criticize, complain, and yes even whine when those giving all the actual effort on the field of play do not meet our expectations.

Last week, that young man felt the wrath of many Iowa State “fans.”

They questioned his talent. They doubted his commitment. It was suggested he should quit. Others demanded he should lose his scholarship. Still, others had comments so disgusting I won’t dignify them in this article.

All of this ... because he missed some field goals in a football game.

Many of us delude ourselves into thinking who we are when things are going well is actually who we are. In fact, the opposite is true.

Our true character is revealed when we face times of adversity and loss. I have never met the young man, but I have heard a lot of great things about him.

Following what was probably the toughest week of his athletic career, this young man made no excuses. He faced the criticism head-on. He even kept his prior commitment to speak at an FCA event when it likely would have been easier to cancel.

Living in freedom, he stood tall rather than hide.

This past Saturday, that young man stepped out in front of 61,000 fans, many of whom the week before had made their displeasure in his performance well known. He went 3 for 3 on field goal attempts. As I sat on my couch watching, I became emotional and proud. Yes, his team lost 10 to 9, but that young man reminded me what winning in life looks like. In the face of a challenge, he persevered. That is real winning and will carry him further than any ball he could ever kick.

Jace, young man, I’m a fan. May I never forget that the lessons our young athletes are learning are much bigger, and more important, than can what can be measured on a scoreboard.