A Sportual Day for the Wolverines
By Jeanne Hess, author of Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games and UM alumna ‘80
Home. HoMe. It’s a Sportual day to be a Wolverine, for sure, with one very prominent and successful coach signing on to be the next steward of the football program at the University of Michigan. The last words of Jim Harbaugh’s press conference were, “This was a decision I made with my heart for myself and my family.”
“This was a decision I made with my heart.” For the Sportual person in all of us, those words resonate as much as the idea that this is a third homecoming to Ann Arbor for him and his family. This is definitely a Sportual time, as it holds the possibility of healing past wounds, of hate of the other, of violence in the name of a game, or even of upholding the Michigan ideal of what “Leaders and Best” really means.
Sportuality loves his “enthusiasm” – his “God Within.” If God is life and all that is true, Jim honors that with his deep faith and by showing up fully to each moment.
Sportuality loves his “Competition” – his willingness to “work with” the other as opposed to against the other. He honors his competitors, and he brings increased integrity to the gridiron.
Sportuality loves his “Humor” – his ability to be fluid and flexible like water and to roll with the punches. He even created smiles in the press conference by calling out a young reporter from the Michigan Daily to tell him how impressed he was with his chutzpah.
Sportuality loves his “Community” – his understanding that we all have charge of this program together, that it’s now all about him, but that he does have great responsibility for outcomes.
Sportuality loves his “Communication” – his ability to articulate an idea that will inspire through a common shared spirit.
Sportuality loves his understanding of “Sanctuary” – of a holy place where home is, whethere that is the Big House, Ann Arbor, or wherever his family resides. Where people are healed and made whole.
Sportuality loves his expression of his “Religion” – of linking back to the Creator. His Catholic roots demanded that he have a greater understanding of the world. Jim, Father John is even a Michigan fan today, and he’s smiling at what you’ve accomplished…so far.
Sportuality loves his “Sacrifice” – his ability to make a situation whole, holy, or healed through choices and actions. He knows he’s not giving up anything, but is moving forward with ease and grace to the next adventure.
Sportuality loves his willingness to “Educate” – to draw forth what is best in these student-athletes, for in the end, a college football coach is always an educator.
Sportuality loves his ideas of “Victory” – of perseverance toward the prize. Will he be another legendary coach at the U of M? Time will tell, but he’s already done some good work toward it.
Welcome Home, Coach.
Godspeed, Coach. As you honor the best of yourself, you honor the best of those associated with the largest alumni base in the country. Your voice, for better or worse, will be heard far and wide, and may it always speak from a Sportual perspective!