The Seattle Seahawks narrowly lost yesterday’s Super Bowl. Commentators continue to criticize the play leading to the interception that cost them the game. Few are congratulating them for coming so close to repeating as champions.
But there’s more to the story. Consider four facts.
One: Statistically, it’s far harder to get to the Super Bowl than to win it. A team must defeat 15 other teams to win its conference and thus play in the Super Bowl. It would therefore have a 6.25 percent chance of getting into the game. Some teams are better than others, and have higher or lower odds. But none has a 50-50 chance, which are the generic odds of winning a Super Bowl once a team gets there.
Two: It’s statistically miraculous that any of the losing players even played in the NFL, much less in the Super Bowl. Ninety-two players are eligible to compete in an NFL game (46 for each team). For players who make an NFL opening-day roster in their rookie season, the average career is six years. Six years x 92 spots in a game equates to 552 opportunities. The planet’s population exceeds 7.29 billion. Thus, the average person has a 0.0000075 percent chance of playing in an NFL game, much less the Super Bowl.
Three: Those who lose the big game need not be defined by their team’s loss. Peyton Manning has won one Super Bowl and lost two, but holds 15 different NFL records and is clearly one of the greatest ever to play the game. Jim Kelly never won a Super Bowl, losing four straight, but was inducted into the Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible. By contrast, last year’s Super Bowl Most Valuable Player was a backup player this year.
Four: Losing teams have fans around the world where winners may not. T-shirts and caps were printed before the game celebrating both the Seahawks and the Patriots as world champions. That way, the winning team could wear its apparel instantly (a huge boon to sales). By NFL rule, the losers’ apparel can never appear on television or eBay, and is never to be seen on American soil. So it is being packaged by World Vision and sent to needy people in a developing nation. For instance, the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls, but have fans in Romania, where much of their “championship” apparel ended up.
Here’s the bottom line: a score is not a soul. We are human “beings,” not human “doings.” We are more than our achievements and failures, no matter what the world thinks of them. (Tweet this) I was walking recently in the pre-dawn morning, and was impressed by the number of stars I could see. The thought occurred to me: Plato and Aristotle saw these stars, as did Abraham and Jacob. We might think that the stars outlived them, but the opposite is true. Millennia after the stars are gone and the heavens are dissolved (2 Peter 3:12), every human will be alive, either with God or separated from him eternally.
There’s only one “game” with eternal significance, and it wasn’t played on a football field yesterday. Paul could testify: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Can you?