This is my first published piece in the Boulder newspaper! I wrote it out of frustration after watching the last blow out and listening to the same old explanations. I have a different take on CU’s football team.
My daughter Courtney and her dance team before the game
An Open Letter to the CU Buffs
I just returned from another disappointing loss; this one against University of Southern California. My husband and I stayed for the whole game as brutal as it was. We are your super fans.
You guys are defeated, deflated and some give the impression of being dejected. It was apparent in your body language and energy after the third touchdown. I just have one question: Why?
I’m not a sports psychologist, sociologist or human behaviorist. I am just a writer who plays tennis. But in my very limited world of competitive sports, I believe you had USC right where you wanted them when you were down by three touchdowns. A huge part of all sports is confidence level. Many times when I was down 0-5 in a tennis match, I decided to really bring it. I had nothing to lose and everything to win. Time after time my competitor would get tight after losing one game after another. Soon they would be freaking out and I would win: 7-5.
Last year, while watching the Denver Broncos, everyone was amazed at how Tim Tebow changed the demeanor of the team. Did he bring tremendous talent? Not really, but he gave every player one thing. Hope.
It was the craziest thing. He just truly believed that the Broncos could win. He had the innate ability to make his other team members believe it too.
One player’s positive or negative energy can affect the whole team. One groan can be infectious like a disease. So can a positive affirmation, an attaboy, or a cheer. You have to be each other’s cheerleaders. Mistakes will be made. No one is perfect. It is how far you get down on yourself and others that makes the difference between a winner and a loser.
When a person is confident, they play to their best ability. Their energy level goes through the roof with the adrenaline rush. When nervous or afraid of screwing up, a player hesitates, second guesses and fails. They drag their feet because their body becomes sluggish.
Getting back to USC, a stronger team has their stats and accomplishments to spur them on and give them confidence. That’s when the underdog can be their undoing. When USC scored that third touchdown, that’s when they may have let down a little and not played as hard because, well, they didn’t have to. If CU had gotten pumped up and attacked, they may not have been ready. If the score had become tight, then it is very likely that USC would have gotten tight too.
The final score could have been a lot different. Instead, I saw a bunch of college kids who couldn’t wait to get back on the plane to Boulder and that was in the first quarter. You had already given up.
You see, confidence has to come from within. No one can tell you to have confidence. You have to find it. You are hearing that because there are so many freshmen on the team, losing is to be expected. The problem is you believe that crap. I see talent on your team, but you can’t play when you are afraid. Fear = Failure.
What I learned from tennis is that you can only think about one thing at a time, so I try to concentrate on positive thinking only. Last tennis season was my worst in a while because I forgot all of this. You have to come up with some super positive mantras to use over and over again. Instead of saying, “We suck,” say, “We got this. We can do this.” Wave from the field to get the crowd roaring. Get them on their feet. Jump up and down in between breaks. Come up with something to shout when you break. For God’s sake get fired up. It is all about energy level. And the other team not only sees it, but senses it.
My advice it is to forget everything you have read and heard. Forget the standings. You are better than your standings. You are not one of the worst teams in the U.S. You have just been convinced that you are. Prove everyone wrong. Go for it. What do you have to lose?
Good luck from your super fan,
A version of this column was published in the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper on Oct. 24th.
Can you relate?