Hard Knocks

Vonte David SadI love shows about sports training and team dynamics and HBO’s Hard Knocks provides that (plus I love football and the process of football).

There is something deeply satisfying to see the drama of people competing for placement and it is interesting to see the conversations behind the scenes (albeit, heavily edited snippets – but you get the gist of what is being said).

My guilty pleasure in this show is when people get cut from the team. A very scripted process happens. First, the player is asked to meet with team leadership (depending on his overall value this is the coach and one other person or just one of the sub-coaches).

The player is shown walking downcast or with a false swagger into a typical conference room (usually a small one but maybe that is because football players are big). The coach has his best “I’m sorry that I am firing you face” on and he utters some platitudes (“You have a great future but just not here..”).

Then the player responds with some blanket generalities (“I know I have a future” or “I know that I will be back”) before hands are shook and he is ushered out of the building. The camera shows them walking out the door, duffel bag in hand.

So why is this interesting? It’s interesting because success and its rewards are fun and easy to watch but seeing how people react to failure and bad news is a more revealing look into their character. Especially if you know that player ended up being ultimately successful or a spectacular failure.

We all compete for something and we all have a mix of wins and losses, even winners. How we react to that and how we display that is what separates a real winner from a real loser. For a winner, losing is just an experience that teaches. For a loser, losing is failure and nothing else.

Now get out there and do some push-ups or something…!



Mike Pettine’s understated approach to life is just too entertaining to pass up. Some pics. From left to right we have: “thinking hard” and then “confused.”

Mike Pettine Focusing Mike Pettine Confused

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