Friendship and Football

A new way to think about your friends, Ravens and 49ers included.

Posted Jan 31, 2013

Maybe it’s because the Super Bowl is on Sunday. Not that I’ve ever given a lot of thought to football. But something that Kathie Lee and Hoda said on the Today Show this week—not about football—got me thinking about football as a metaphor, a way to describe one’s friends. Kathie Lee and Hoda said that "people are the average of their five best friends." I was only half listening, but they said they had heard it somewhere. I looked it up on Google and found it was a quotation from a motivational speaker named Jim Rohn. (Apologies to his fans, I've never heard of him. But he probably never heard of me either.)

To me this idea of being the average of our five closest friends means what we like about our friends—and don’t like about our friends—is what we like/dislike about ourselves. Then Kathy Lee said her definition of a good friend is someone who tells you the truth even if it hurts. Hoda and I beg to differ. Hoda said a good friend is a cheer leader. And I thought, sometimes yes, sometimes, not so much. But...catching a pass from inspiration, I thought maybe there are actually five kinds of friends  And we are the average of those types.  And maybe they are best described in football terms, at least this once, three days before the Super Bowl.

 1. The cheer leader is the friend who is always on your side. The feel good person in your life. We all need them. But not all the time. They look up to you too much, forcing you to look down on them.

 2. The coach is the mentor/friend. A little bit older, wiser, richer than you are. Someone you go to for good advice. Someone you look up to, which means that they may look down on you.

3. The referee is the rule maker.  Always telling you what and what not to do. We all need a little bit of ref in our lives, someone who will tell us when we've stepped off and need to step back.  But as my mom likes to say, don't tell me that my slip is showing unless you've got a safety pin. This analogy definitely doesn't work for football.  

4. The opposing player—maybe not an enemy, more like a frenemy. Someone you compete with. Someone you admire, even if you can’t be entirely open with them.

 5. The teammate is the best kind of friend. The teammate is the friend who is not only on your side, but makes you do better than you think you can. The teammate has your back. The teammate is your equal. And the best thing about the teammate is you can have more than one! In fact, you better have more than one, unless you’re playing tennis doubles.

We are all a combination of these five types of friends.  And at any given moment, on any given day we will love or hate those voices whether they are coming from our friends or from inside ourselves. The trick is knowing when to listen and when to say talk to the hand.

So here's my advice for Super Bowl 47 and beyond. Find a bunch of teammates,  and enjoy, not only the game, but your life.

And go Ravens!