Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rah Rah Rah Be True to Your School

I'll just come out and say it: I'm a fan of the University of Oklahoma (OU). There, I said it. If I remember correctly, I missed only 1 game this year that the OU Sooners football team played. In addition to the many locally televised games, I saw 2 live in Norman, Oklahoma and a couple at a sports bar an hour away because nobody around here thought it worthwhile to broadcast those games.

The Sooners fought hard to make it to the national championship game against the Florida Gators, only to lose in the last quarter (heartbreaking). A few weeks before that, Sam Bradford, OU's staring quarterback, received the Heisman Trophy for the best player in college football. Only a sophomore, Sam had proved his worth as the best at the collegiate level.

Projected as a top 10 draft pick, he had a big decision to make - return to OU as one of the many poverty-stricken students or make an estimated $75,000,000 in contract money with the pros. Think about that: 75 million dollars to play football! He would be set for life; his family would be set for life. Heck, he could help everyone in the town of Norman. And, he gets to play football!

All the experts knew that Sam couldn't and wouldn't resist the fame and fortune of the NFL. If I was in his position, I can't imagine saying 'no' to all that, could you? January 15 (yesterday) was the last day for undergraduate college players to declare eligibility for the draft. Sam, hair unkempt and wearing a red jacket, looking like he just rolled out of bed, made a short statement (paraphrased):

I love OU. I grew up dreaming about attending the University and playing football here. I like my teammates and I want to be with them again. I see no reason to cut this wonderful experience short. I'm coming back next year. (He smiled from ear-to-ear and the crowd applauded.)

What? He could be a multi, multi, multi-millionaire in a matter of a few in a fancy house with servants, drive a fancy car or have a limo, help out family and friends, have his people contact their people, etc...and he wants to stay at OU with his friends. The stunned reporter asked the obvious question: what do you like so much about being here?

His answer: Everything.

I've thought a great deal over the years about happiness, fulfillment, and success. I've spent countless hours and more energy than I could afford trying to change circumstances to fit into my this-would-make-me-happy no avail, really. And then I see this unassuming, humble, happy, content, young man choose that which makes him happy and content over and against the bright lights beckoning him to mega-stardom. In this day of shortcuts, I'm stunned...and proud of him for taking the road less traveled.

We all make choices, don't we? We all have a framework or a decision-tree for making those choices...sometimes healthy, sometimes not. Mine seems quite complicated at times, although over the last few years it has simplified and become healthier. It really helps me when I run into someone who knows who they are and has enough faith to believe that there is a time for everything under heaven. Not only having permission to enjoy the moment or the season, but also a sense of calling to do so.

According to everyone who knows him, Sam has great parents and he enjoyed a wonderful and love-filled childhood. Many others, including me...not so much. And I can tell it - his roots grow deep into rich, dark soil. He knows how to make choices that sprinkle good, clear water on that soil, eventually seeping down and bringing life to those roots in his spirit. They say the most important decision you can make in life is who you choose as your parents. Sam chose well. : )

When I heard him say "everything" my soul responded with a huge YES! What a place to be in life where someone asks you what do you like about your present situation and you answer, "everything." I imagine Slingin' Sam Bradford's life is not perfect, but there seems little doubt that he thoroughly enjoys it, and embraces it. And he has the good sense and the trust to bask in that good place while he can.

I want more of that.

Thanks Sam. Rah, rah, rah be true to your school...Boomer Sooner!


Jordan said...

Comment #1,000,000? Am I close? Go Sooners!

Mark Adair said...

Yay, a comment! I mean, yes Jordan, I believe you are very close to that coveted 1 million comment number. I have a trained monkey in back who keeps track of the total comments tally. I will check with him after he finishes my next blog. :)