The 51st Super Bowl is being played tonight. For a few hours, everyone will stop and watch two excellent teams battle it out for the right to be known as the ultimate champions.
I sent the note below to my students this morning. I was not trying to convince them I was crazy or that I was obsessed. They probably already think that. I don’t care if they watch the Super Bowl. What I care about is that they realize that success (whether it is their success or Tom Brady’s success) comes from work and not from watching someone else be successful. I felt they needed to know that I was going to be upset if they show up for my class tomorrow poorly prepared because they had stared for hours at a television set watching a bunch of strangers 1,000 miles away becoming champions. I suspect that some people want to feel like champions without having to do any of the difficult work so they latch on to a team or to a player in an attempt to share that success. That is not how I want to do it.
I truly want my students to be successful. (I know them personally. They are bright. They are nice people. I have a reason to want them to become winners.) I have an idea that their success will not be increased one iota by watching the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons play football. As long as watching does not get in the way of them being prepared for my class, I am all for it. It is a nice diversion. But the second that watching someone else play a game gets in the way of their own personal success, then I am upset.
The same goes for teachers. If watching Tom Brady play football this evening keeps me from being prepared for a great class at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, then I should not watch that game. My students must come first. My students have to be more important to me than all those strangers on those two football teams. If not, then I should retire so I can have more time to sit on my couch and watch television.
Email to my students:
“There is a football game tonight. I don't care. I expect you to be well prepared tomorrow morning. Tom Brady and all those other players will be well prepared tonight because they desperately want to be the best. I expect the same from you. You will have had 71 hours since Friday's class. That is plenty of time to have found 90 minutes to get well prepared. I guarantee that Tom Brady will not show up tonight and say ‘you know I got busy watching someone else on television being a winner and that was more important to me than my own chance to be a winner.’ In my opinion, the world will be a lot better off when talented people stop spending so much time watching other people become winners. Your motto simply cannot be ‘I really want to be a winner but I am willing to let other people out work me.’"