My job forces me to engage all day every day with on the job injuries. i have seen medical documents for some terribly unimaginable life changing injuries. And I think in some regard that makes me attentive to these kinds of moments in someone's life for both the inflicted and the party that caused the injury.
I have also experienced great and grievous loss in my life. I understand the weight of moments and circumstances that occurs following unexpectedly and irrevocably change in a life.
This season a Southern University football player sustained a paralyzing injury while he played between the hedges. Immediately, Dawgnation rallied around Devon Gales. The honor and integrity with which UGA, the team, and Mark Richt personally reacted and supported this young man is well documented. It is a tangible reflection of the kinds of things that make me ridiculously proud to be a UGA fan and alum.
Tonight Devon cheered alongside the Bulldogs to a really ugly win. And somehow my heart wondered if this moment changed the players and staff in a way that is unspoken or even unrealized. People should be affected when they cause unearned and unimaginable pain on others, regardless of intent. They should be shaken. They should be "off their game." And that should be the case for a while. You should not be capable of flippantly moving past a moment like that.
I am going to go to bed tonight believing that the shift in confidence that UGA endured this year could be the result of a reckoning of an unfortunate accident. I'm not saying that they are punishing themselves, but instead that we should permit them to have had a moment at the least or ideally encourage these young men and their coaching staff to take some space to react with less than 100% confidence when their win was earned at the hand of great loss in another.
A few losses in turn for an entire team of athletes growing into better men will be worth it every time.
Win or lose, this is my team. This is my tribe. And, I am in. I like feeling proud of something with greater long term consequences rather than a score. I will always want the win, but a win is empty without good sportsmanship. No. A win is just plain gross without good sportsmanship.
Soundtrack: Georgia on my Mind; Junkyard Dog; Martyrs and Thieves - Jennifer Knapp