The state of Ohio lives for High School Football. This passion is something we can all learn from.
Ohio loves its football.
Of course, football is the national pastime, but in some states—Ohio, California, Florida, and Texas all spring to mind—high school football is more than just a game. Some of the top college athletes in the country come from these states, so every year, from the beginning of the season on, all eyes are on these young players.
Everyone hopes their team will make it to the championship in Columbus. Everyone hopes their hometown hero will earn a football scholarship and maybe, someday, a career in the NFL.
Life isn’t easy for these kids. Sure, they get to be treated like stars, but they also have to spend long hours in practice, often in difficult, or even dangerous weather—football season in Ohio can bring anything from rain, sleet, and snow, to high heat and muggy humidity. They give up family vacations, risk serious injury, and put in long hours on the road, traveling to and from away games.
Why do they do it?
Some players simply love the game. Others are fulfilling a family legacy—perhaps an older brother or father played for the same team back in the day, maybe even in the same position. In some families, football is a tradition going back generations.
But in Ohio, high school football goes beyond individual passion, beyond family tradition. Football is a way of life for entire communities.
The rivalries alone go way back. St. Vincent-St. Mary vs. Hoban, Ursuline vs. Cardinal Mooney, and countless others, each school has its traditional adversary, and everyone in town knows whom to root for in the big rivalry game. It might be only kids on the field, but they are the town’s kids, and everyone remembers their own high school days. Everyone comes together. Winning a championship is something to shoot for, to be proud of.
No, not everyone wins the championship. And not all champions go on to play college football, let alone the NFL. But high school football offers the young men of Ohio the chance to be stars, and the experience teaches discipline, determination, and leadership–skills these men can draw on for the rest of their lives.
Don’t discount games. Don’t discount traditions. Don’t discount personal passions.
Whether we’re talking about the company picnic everybody loves, an office lunchtime card game that’s been going for 10 years, or that one employee with a weird hobby, any time you have people in your organization doing something they love, that is your opportunity to foster connection, engagement, and a sense of investment in the workplace.
It’s play, but what would work be without play? What would Ohio be without high school football?
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