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The Fine Line Between Winning and Losing

Last week the AFC and NFC Championship Games were played to determine the participants in the Super Bowl. In two exciting games, the winners were both decided by field goals, one that was made in overtime and one that was missed at the end of regulation. The New England Patriots won the AFC Championship when Baltimore Raven kicker, Billy Cundiff missed a 32 yard field goal as time expired. Had he made the kick the game would have been tied and gone into overtime. Cundiff is an established and successful kicker who admitted after the game that he just missed it plain and simple. He had no excuses, he missed the kick. In the NFC Championship game, San Francisco 49ed punt returner, Kyle Williams, fumbled his second punt of the game in overtime, that gave the New York Giants field position deep in San Francisco territory. A few minutes later, Giants kicker, Lawrence Tynes, made a 31 yard field goal attempt, that put the Giants in the Super Bowl. Two kicks one yard apart, one made, one missed. So what was the difference? Some have said experience, as Tynes made the game winning kick for the Giants in their Super Bowl win several years ago. Some have said preparation and focus. Some have said mental toughness. But, to me the lesson we can teach athletes of all ages is just how important it is to keep composure and focus at all times during a game. The difference between the winners and losers in both of these games came down to one play that was successful and one that failed. The future will be interesting for both Williams and Cundiff. I will be intrigued to see how each moves on in their careers past their respective mistakes in these games. As professional athletes, both have had to learn at some point in their careers about dealing with failure. These failures will tell a lot about their character and mental tenacity. I have shared numerous stories on this newsletter about the mental aspect of sports. How we all deal with losing and failure can either make us stronger or can be so gut wrenching that we can quit the sport for good. Failing at this level, where everyone can see your mistake, can teach us so much, but most importantly, how we can learn and grow from it. Hopefully, both of these athletes will come back stronger refocused next season.

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