Every day, I walk past Ground Zero on the way to work. It is a far different scene from almost a decade ago. The Freedom Tower is already taller than its surrounding skyscrapers, while the memorial fountains are in the process of being tested daily for the upcoming 10-year anniversary of 9/11. I hope that in the coming days we take time to remember those who fell ten years ago, but also celebrate the freedom we have here in the United States.
Sports has the power to instill emotion in ways nothing else can, as we witnessed in Japan's unlikely run as U.S. Women's World Cup champions. In sports, winning is everything; it’s the difference from making the Hall of Fame, being known as clutch, or even being remembered past your playing career. Winners continue to sell shoes well into their late 40's, light the Olympic opening ceremony torch in their mid 50's, and make national news when they pass away. But in real life, sometimes losing can be just as memorable.
There is something beautiful in the imperfection of real life. Friday Night Lights, the novel that followed Odessa, TX and their high school football team in the late 80's, is a perfect example. It is a story full of tragedy and perseverance that showed both sides of sports. The desire to win clouded an entire town’s view of young men, but there was beauty in these men leaving it all on the field and walking away from falling short with their heads raised high. In the same way, the movie Cool Runnings didn’t have a happy ending like the rest of the Disney movies. But it was based on a true story. Life isn’t always perfect. Most times it isn’t. A quote from Irv in the movie really stuck with me. “A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.” We will never feel complete if we can’t feel satisfied with what we have already achieved. That means laying it all down to try to succeed, but what we succeed at does not make us. America loves winners, but it will not forget a loser who never stopped fighting and didn't let one game or one career define them.
During his four years at the University of Texas, Colt McCoy was the winningest college quarterback of all time. He won major bowl games and individual awards, but a pinched nerve in his arm took him out in the first quarter of the BCS Championships. There was something so powerful in his words after the game. He was a humble loser who congratulated the other team and still gave praise to the God he put his faith in. Many men would be devastated to the point where they would be either filled with anger or depression, but Colt didn’t take anything away from Alabama’s victory. He kept his head high and was proud of his team, even after losing the game he had spent his entire life dreaming about. I hope one day Colt has a chance to win the Super Bowl, but if he never does, it is clear that he is a man with no regrets and one we can all look up to.
So on 9/11/11, let's all remember those who lost their lives and those who gave their all to save just one more person that fateful day. America still stands for freedom, liberty, and resilience. We can continue to stand unified and come back from any setback or tragedy. I hope that 9/11 can keep us motivated to build a better tomorrow, one that isn’t only about earning more power and money or winning, but about providing opportunities for all Americans and continuing to defend our freedoms and celebrate the strength of the human spirit.