The Super Bowl letdown

I don’t follow football. The only game I ever watch is the Super Bowl, and I usually don’t care who’s in it.

Except when it’s my home team.

I felt a certain amount of pride the past couple of weeks, seeing so much blue and black spread across Charlotte: The roadside stands selling overpriced Panthers T-shirts. The sea of jerseys perusing the meat aisle at Harris Teeter. The Chick-fil-A sign wishing Carolina well in the Super Bowl. And one Facebook post after another with the hashtag #KeepPounding.

Last night, as I settled onto my friend’s couch, I fully expected a great game—and it was—but it was also hard to watch as the home team with such an amazing season behind them got clobbered on the field. It was as painful as that puppy monkey baby commercial.

Still, I thought, they made it to the Super Bowl. That’s a big deal! And they were facing their toughest opponent yet, not some rookie team. I hated watching them lose last night, just as I hated watching them lose to the Patriots in 2004, but I could still be proud of how far they had come.

Then I saw Cam Newton’s post-game media interview. (Which, it seems, may be more complex than most people are talking about, but I’ll get back to that.)

It doesn’t take a die-hard football fan to know Cam is a great player. Even I know that. He’s incredibly talented and is big on giving back to the community, especially when it comes to helping youth.

But man, the interview.

I certainly wouldn’t expect him to be all smiles after losing the most important game of the year—and possibly of his career, although I think he has a good chance of returning to the Super Bowl—but it says something when the only thing I’ve heard about him since the game ended has to do with that interview.

My initial reaction was somewhat motherly: “Take your hood off, hold your head up and put on your big boy pants. Stop being such a sore loser. You can’t win them all.” He came across as a pouty child, and it was embarrassing for the whole team, regardless of what happened beforehand.

Even worse? I’ve been guilty of the same thing.

Now let me back up a second. I know the loss was a huge disappointment, and I felt bad for every Panther who worked so hard to get there. I’m sure it’s not easy having dozens of reporters in your face, either, basically asking why you didn’t play better, but in the media’s defense, that’s their job.

Cam is still a great player, and I’m sure he’ll bounce back. But slouching, mumbling and making an abrupt escape during an interview isn’t making him look good right now. Even if that’s not all there is to the story, that’s clearly made the biggest impression.

All this hubbub around his interview has made me think about how we come across when we face failure or disappointment. Are we immature, or do we show some grace? Do we wallow in self-pity, or do we see it as a teachable moment? On a spiritual level, how does our reaction reflect Christ? Sometimes we have a short amount of time to make an impact.

I’ve certainly reacted poorly to someone else’s accomplishment (even if it stayed in my head), and I know I’ve been so down on myself that I’ve failed to show any hint of optimism. Fortunately for me, news cameras haven’t been around to capture it.

It’s true pride and expectations can take a beating, but sometimes we need to be brought down a notch. Maybe that’s what it takes to make us grow. Maybe that’s what it takes to make us better the next time around.

We’ve all had letdowns. How did you react last time you faced disappointment? How do you think that reaction affected others?

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