Our emotions hold power. How we decide to channel them can be a game changer. On November 4, USC lost to Washington 52-42. After the game, star quarterback for the “Trojans,” Caleb Williams was seen running into his mother’s arms in the stands. Even after being responsible for four touchdowns, his team had lost the game. So, we got to witness visceral emotion in Williams weeping in his mother’s arms.
In a vicious sport like football, it isn’t often that you see men cry. If it isn’t injury-related, it’s pretty rare. The emotions that you see most associated with that sport are aggression, anger, and happiness. But most people involved in sports have a competitive fire. It’s what’s necessary for these athletes to reach the heights that they do.
What we saw in that moment with Williams was just that. He has a will to win. And in this current sports climate, having the raw desire to compete is special. College sports is a lucrative business, as is professional sports. Athletes’ fire for their chosen discipline gets called into question often. So, for one, Williams expressing himself in this way is refreshing to me.
In this instance, I think Williams has shown strength. You want your athletes to care, you want them to want to win! I only see this moment as a benefit to his squad. They have to draw inspiration from it. The coaching staff has to be head over heels about the pride that they and his family have put in Williams.
For those who may think that this moment was a moment of weakness for Williams, I’d contend the contrary. In the words of Michael Jordan, “Well, that’s you, because you never won anything.” Once someone realizes what it takes to win at the highest levels, they view moments like this differently. You begin to understand what it takes, you learn how horrible it feels to lose. You respect those so much more for their respect for the game, and themselves.
We have to push our culture to continue to evolve. It’s important to note how much of a benefit crying can be for someone. It is a release, there’s freedom in it. And if we want players to be healthier, mentally, then we should champion athletes to be vulnerable when it’s called for. We could be preventing much worse instances by encouraging this.
This moment will only bode well for Williams in the future. We have to encourage our athletes to feel comfortable enough to express their disappointments. It’s healthy, it’s warranted. And ultimately, he can play on my squad any time if he cares this much. That spirit can’t be bought. Tough to imagine in a world where so much can be.