I grew up in a football town. My dad had played high school football and passed his love for the sport to me. Every fall Friday night, I was at the football field. I continued to follow and watch on tv as the years passed. It was a sport my ex and I enjoyed, and it was one sport I knew more about than him. It was a bit of a joke among a few of his family and friends in the early years. I liked a good game, which I usually found more in college games than pro, but I liked pro games, too, especially as I watched familiar college players grow.
But my love for the game changed. I didn’t notice it at the time, but it makes sense in hindsight.
Four years ago was SuperBowl weekend. I reflected on that weekend three years ago. Looking back, that was when my experience of football changed. I had no desire to watch a game on TV. I attended a few games in person, but that was different. It was an experience with friends or family. I watched games in the gym while working out, but I simultaneously had conversations with others. I had no interest in watching a game by myself at home. It didn’t upset me. I didn’t really think about it. I just chose another option over a game.
Until this year.
I wondered if I avoided football because of the memories I had with my ex. Just that consideration changed my outlook. Since then, I’ve enjoyed football—by myself. My enjoyment of football has nothing to do with my ex. Those memories that might have been getting in my way weren’t significant enough to lessen my enjoyment. My enjoyment is not due to a situation or relationship. It’s a game.
Most people who have been relieved to watch football again were on pause because of COVID precautions. I know some people who have walked away from football because of politics, sponsors, leadership, or an individual player. If you haven’t expanded the application yet, you might suspect this isn’t about football. This a simple reminder:
Memories are important and powerful. We need to keep them in context and not let them have the wrong influence on our choices. Yes, memories will always have an impact on us. If they don’t, we’re probably ignoring some things in our past. But as we deal well with our past, we move forward with it in perspective. We can make better decisions because of our memories. We might even enjoy some of our favorites even more because we work through those memories.
And we make more, even better, memories in the process.