Good Call: Beating Brokenness

Claire Fahy
Sports Editor

“It would have broken a lot of people,”

So remarked a Fox Sports analyst as the cameras panned to a stoic quarterback Alex Smith, his steadfast gaze fixed upon his defensive line as they closed out the final nine seconds of a 36-32 San Francisco 49er victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Playoffs. Smith orchestrated the upset with a last minute touchdown throw to teammate Vernon Davis.

The number one draft pick in 2005, it took Smith seven long years to prove his worth to his team, his city, and the entire NFL. He was impaired by injuries, bad coaching and seven different offensive coordinators in seven years. It would have broken a lot of people. But it didn’t break Smith.

Victory stories are easy. Dominance, fame, impact simple. What’s difficult is being called overrated, getting sidelined, constantly having to pick your game up from the ground and start over. Proving ability is challenging, but even more so when no one believes you have that ability to begin with.

There are only five runners who score on a cross-country team; only five players who start a basketball game; just 11 people at a time can play on a soccer field. For all the superstars on a team, there are the players who sit and watch from the sideline, waiting for their chance. It’s not that they don’t work as hard,or want it as much — they just aren’t deemed able.

It’s okay for your eyes to burn as other people light up the scoreboard while you watch from the sideline. It’s okay to feel your heart sink as your coach passes you over and puts other subs into the game. It’s okay to try your best and not succeed. What isn’t okay is giving up, throwing in the towel, walking away.

Michael Jordan once said, “I can’t accept not trying.” The most famous basketball player in the world, Jordan was once cut from his high school varsity team. It’s okay. What isn’t okay is letting it defeat you.

If Jordan hadn’t tried, the game of basketball would never have reached the level it is at to- day. If Alex Smith had given up, the 49ers would be a team that hadn’t reached the play-offs in nine years. But they did try. They shut out the name-callers, the doubters, the critics. They persevered and they worked until they achieved their dreams. They didn’t let anyone stand in their way. They didn’t let the adversity they faced defeat them.

Such hardship would have broken a lot of people. The losing, the lack of belief, the heartbreak. It would have broken a lot of people. But the fact that some athletes never let it defeat them means that the face of sports is constantly being changed, improved.

It should have broken them. But it didn’t.