Follow Reese's cancer journey on his Facebook page, "Reese Strong!"
Keeping Up with the Mazzolas

Losing with Grace and Dignity

Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am one of the biggest college football fans that ever lived– for a girl, anyways. There have been a few times in my life where I probably behaved poorly because I am just that emotionally invested in college football. Specifically my Alabama Crimson Tide.

If you even remotely follow college football, then you know how good Alabama has been for the past decade or so since Nick Saban has been our head coach. We’ve been building a football dynasty– I’m talking about literally playing for the national title every year. And when we lose, or we don’t make it to the title game, it’s considered a disappointment.

College football fan bases would kill to have programs like ours. It’s just a fact. We’ve always got a target on our back, and year after year, everyone wants to beat Alabama. No one likes perfection, after all (unless you’re on the winning side of it).

That being said, every team has to lose some time. It’s just part of life. The way you handle it is what can define you as either a winner or a loser.

I’ve been to the big games. And I’ve endured a traumatic loss to my hometown’s team– when the Gamecocks came out of the woodwork to beat Bama with Stephen Garcia in 2010. I’ve been devastated when my team has had a perfect season and doesn’t come away with the W in the game that matters–my best friend had to drag me out of a bar and drive me home after Bama’s 9-6 loss to LSU in 2011. It wasn’t even because I was drunk. It was because I was crying crocodile tears, and I couldn’t see through them well enough to drive home. I’ve seen my team lose in the most humiliating way possible to our most bitter rival– think back to the kick 6 during the Iron Bowl in 2013.

I like to think my parents did a good job raising my sisters and I to be gracious and humble football fans. They instilled in us the virtue of humility, which has come to serve me well in the face of defeat (aka Bama losing the title game last night in the final seconds after having control of the game the entire time). It’s still hard to lose, but it’s going to be alright because there are bigger things out there than football (I guess…). I’m still pouting about it though.

My boys will be proudly sporting their crimson and white through this off-season. They will see their mommy and daddy proudly sporting their crimson and white, and they will see us setting a good example and being gracious losers. When the inevitable “Bama who?” and “roll tears roll” comments are slung our way, my boys will see their parents react with grace and a simple “roll tide.” I’m not going to engage because I know what it’s like to be a winner.

I think Bear Bryant said it best, “It’s awfully important to win with humility. It’s also important to lose. I hate to lose more than anyone, but if you never lose you won’t know how to act. If you lose with humility, then you can come back.”

Roll Tide, y’all!