Sunday, September 25, 2016

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

I was watching three different football games yesterday, one youth football game that my grandson was playing in and two college games. My eleven-year-old grandson plays wide receiver. He caught one pass and dropped another one that should have been an easy catch. I can say that as a grandparent on the sideline not having ever played football. The catch he made was with fairly good coverage for eleven-year-olds so it showed he had the skills to make catches under pressure. The catch he dropped he was open and had beaten his defender. Had he caught that pass he would have run for a touchdown.

The two college games I watched were USU against the Air Force and BYU against West Virginia. Both games were close and exciting. There were many plays that resulted in spectacular plays from all the teams and there were plays that had players on the stands and those watching on TV screaming, how could you miss that catch? Why is it that receivers seem to be able to make the catches while defenders are hanging all over them but drop the passes when they are open and there is nothing between them and the goal? I think the answer is that they took their eyes off the ball and were already thinking of heading for the easy touchdown.

When they catch the difficult passes while covered it is because they are focused on the ball and not the defenders, they don’t lose focus on the goal to catch the ball. When coverage is not there or the pass is easy and they lose focus and are thinking of where they are going next, to score a touchdown or get a first down, they forget to catch the ball. I heard one of the coaches during a pregame interview say that every offensive play they have, except for one or two, is designed to end in scoring points. If you think about it that is true. There are a few exceptions like spiking the ball to stop the clock, punting on 4th down, taking the knee to run out the clock. Why would a play be designed to do anything else but score? So why don’t plays always end up scoring? Things don’t always go the way they plan; someone fails to do their part in executing the play or the defense may have done a better job in doing what they were supposed to do, keep the offense from scoring.

Football teams have many short and long term goals. Some short term goals focus on getting a first down, scoring a touchdown or field goal. Defenders have goals to stop the next run, sacking the quarterback, Intercepting a pass. There are also other goals to win this game, the next game to have a winning season, to win the conference championship, or go to and win a bowl game. But their focus is on the next play or this game. Whenever the media ask a coach about a game that is one or two games away the coach always responds that they are focusing on the next game, not one later.

Life is like this in many ways. Our lives are busy and we have many goals that we are trying to achieve. The members of my LDS ward are all students at Utah State University and all of them hope to graduate and get their dream job. Because our ward is for married students, all of them have achieved the goal to find someone they love and that love them and get married.  Now they are focused on the classes they are taking this semester with the end goal in mind to graduate.
For many students the goal of graduating and getting that full-time job is the end goal. It is hard to think past that. Those of us that are looking back realize that graduating is just the beginning, there are many more exciting things to look forward to. But for now it is important for these students to focus on the short term goals and not just the end of the game.

No matter where we are in our lives, students, parents, empty nesters, retirees we all need short and long term goals. We focus on the short term knowing the long term ones will be achieved if the short term goals are taking us in the direction we need to go to achieve our long term goals.

Keeping our eyes on the ball, our short term goals, will ensure we don’t drop the easy passes. There will be times that even when it seems that it is an easy pass we will drop the ball. What do we do? We get up admit we made a mistake and try harder to catch the next one.

During one of the pregame interviews they were interviewing a senior and he was talking about during football season it never seems to end but it quickly does and then all of a sudden four years has gone and they are playing in their final season and they don’t want it to end. But it eventually does and they graduate and move on.

So it is with our lives. We focus on daily goals, yearly goals, career goals, etc. and then all too soon you are looking back and wondering what happened? Where will you be in 40-50 years? Are the goals you have set and are focusing on going to take you to where you want to be at that time of your life?

Remember to keep your eye on the ball, don’t lose focus of those things that are important right now in your life. But also make sure that the goals you are working for will eventually help you achieve the ultimate goal we all should have, that is to have eternal families, keep God’s commandments, be cleansed of all our sins, and be worthy to return to live as families with our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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