Ben Rheinheimer | November 27, 2020
In a recent football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals, a crazy play caught my attention. If you are a sports fan you probably already know what I am referring to but if you aren’t, I invite you to check out the play here. To summarize for those of you who aren’t interested in link clicking, Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf chases down Arizona safety Budda Baker to stop him scoring a touchdown after Baker made an interception. Now that may sound pretty standard considering I was watching a football game, but I can guarantee you it was not. It wasn’t necessarily the interception, or the tackling, or even the skills or athleticism that was so amazing. Rather, it was Metcalf’s determination to chase down and tackle Baker. In a full out sprint, Metcalf traveled approximately 90 yards in 10 seconds just to catch up to and tackle Baker right before the endzone.
However, as I have re-watched this play numerous times, my question has remained… Why? Why spend all that energy to stop a guy from getting into the endzone? Stats show that the majority of teams have better than a 50% chance of scoring a touchdown when their offense is inside the 20-yard line. Arizona is at 76%. So, wasn’t Metcalf doing all of that work just to delay the inevitable? And at that point Seattle was winning 13-7, so why work so hard? It would still be a close game.
I can’t speak for Metcalf, but what rings in my head is that this play, this moment, these measly 10 seconds mattered. Metcalf could have just pulled up at the 50-yard line and saved his energy or he could have just finished his route at the other end of the field and never started chasing in the first place and no one would have blamed him. That is what most of the guys on his team did. But for Metcalf, something was different. He saw an opportunity. An opportunity to make a difference and made the most of it by giving his all to impact that specific moment of the game.
So, what if I told you that the cardinals didn’t score?
Arizona worked on getting that touchdown but never got in. They didn’t even kick a field goal! Amazing right. Metcalf’s chase down tackle helped prevent the Cardinals from scoring. But does that result even matter? Sure, Seattle and their many fans were probably ecstatic that Metcalf’s effort payed off. However, if Arizona would have scored, would that have diminished the effort, passion, and commitment that Metcalf showed in his chase down tackle? Would his team have been angry at him for not tackling Baker sooner or stripping the ball away from him? I hope not.
So, what if I told you the Seahawks didn’t win?
Despite having the better record and despite leading 20-7 at one point soon after this tackle, Arizona came back to stun Seattle and win the game in overtime. But does that loss even matter? Again, I assume that most, if not all, Seattle fans were bummed about the result. However, if you happen to follow sports, there was no way you weren’t seeing this tackle. It was up on every social media platform and sports programming. If they won would they have celebrated Metcalf more? Probably not, it was just 10 seconds out of a 60-minute game.
The moment matters!
In the end the success or lack of success doesn’t define the value of that singular moment. What D.K. Metcalf did at that moment in time was important and valuable in the act itself. D.K. Metcalf saw an opportunity to take full advantage of that moment and he never second guessed it. It was almost as if it was instinctual because he didn’t have time to weigh the pros and cons. He knew the value already.
For me, building relationships are no different. As youth workers and educators, we work within moments. Yes, there are big goals that need to be achieved for our program’s success. Yes, there are important weekly, monthly, and yearly benchmarks that should be met. However, the greatest value of our organizations and our programs and our work is building relationships that help children and youth develop and grow. And the heart of building relationships lies in the everyday moments. Just like that Metcalf tackle, you may need to go all-in, giving 110% of your energy and focus just to have a 10 second positive interaction with a child. And it doesn’t matter if that child never shows up for your program again or if in the end you didn’t hit all your metrics for the year. In that moment, that relationship you had with that child was critical. Even if that kid heads down the wrong road, don’t doubt that moment. Even if you lose your job, don’t doubt your value. Because it matters. And the second we forget that, the second we start second guessing whether it is worth our energy to stop for 5 minutes to do relationship building, we have lost. Even if we hit our budget goals, we have lost. Even if we created the most incredible curriculum, we have lost.
Our work is about impacting lives through relationships. Low budget numbers, that stinks, but tell me how many moments did kids genuinely smile this week. Lower test scores, bummer, but how many minutes were given just to listening to kids’ concerns. Let’s remember to “measure” the right things. Let’s not forget to value the moments. Let’s not second guess whether building or sustaining a relationship is always the right decision when it comes to working with children.
Because your moments are impactful and they are truly the things that are worth celebrating.
Ben Rheinheimer, Self-Efficacy Curator at ULEAD