Let’s go do something special

Nicolas Shump
Special to Gannett Kansas

As I sat watching the NFL playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on Sunday, like many fans, I went through a series of emotional highs and lows.

Donning my Patrick Mahomes No. 15 jersey, I do not pretend to be an objective observer of this game. Nevertheless, this game provided an example of the power and relevance of sports to even the casual fan.

As a lifelong participant and fan of sports, I can attest to the lessons that easily translate from the court or field into our daily lives. When I first started playing organized sports in third grade, I could hardly dribble a basketball and was lucky enough to get off an occasional shot.

The next year as I entered a new school and new neighborhood with hardly a handful of friends, I took refuge on the school basketball court at recess every day. When it came time to play organized basketball for a new team, those hours of casual practice had paid considerable dividends and I found myself recognized by my new classmates for my basketball prowess.

By my sixth-grade year, my intramural team was the heavy favorite to win our league tournament, which we entered undefeated and as the top seed. Unfortunately, several of my teammates either overslept or chose not to attend one particular tournament game. I found myself with only four players. My opponent chose not to play with four players and my team began the game shorthanded. Though we did our best, I found our team down in the closing minutes of the game.

We played to the end and lost, but the lesson I took from this game was the necessity of continuing to play, regardless of the circumstances.

As I watched the Chiefs, the heavy favorite in their playoff game, make mistake after mistake to the point of finding themselves down by 24 points at the end of the first quarter, I clung to the hope that somehow the Chiefs could recover from this deficit.

As the Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes relayed to his teammates, they had several choices in terms of how to respond to this situation. Of course, they would continue to play the game, but with what type of attitude. And how would Mahomes respond personally and as a leader of his team?

The day before I had watched the No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens face a similar deficit of 28-6 in their game against the Tennessee Titans. When the television cameras showed Lamar Jackson on the sidelines, he was sitting on the bench watching the game. In contrast, as Patrick Mahomes watched his team fall behind, the cameras showed Mahomes walking up and down the sidelines exhorting his teammates with the phrase “Let’s go do something special.”

After scoring 41 straight unanswered points and 51 points total, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs had obviously done something not only “special,” but extraordinary, if not unprecedented.

The realm of sports provides us with the opportunity to learn not only about winning or losing, but how to respond to adversity.

When faced with hardship, each of us has choices regarding how to respond. I hope the magnificent comeback of the Kansas Chiefs will teach us how that we all possess the ability to “do something special.”

Nicolas Shump is a longtime educator and writer in northeast Kansas. He can be reached at