Experts say you lay the tracks for the rest of your life early.
I say it happens in high school football.
Nothing in early childhood prepares kids to deal with the success and failure of sports.
You didn't get the 'right' bike at Christmas? And you feel bad? Even cheated? Maybe got your feelings hurt?
Think how your older brother felt when he got the same bike the same Christmas.
Where's the equality for him?
Ten years later compare the 63-0 stomp of your football team when you played defense.
That bike looks pretty good.
Experts run tests to prove their early childhood theories of development. Football coaches run X's and O's for a more definitive result. They win some, lose some.
What happens when your team goes 4-23 during three years playing varsity?
That's too much losing to embrace all at once, but you get over it.
By winning the small parts of the game as much as you can. By being more prepared to compete. And by respecting the game of football.
See, it's not all about you. Ever. Unless you're a quarterback. Then it's not about you either, but everyone thinks it is.
The Bulldogs of the past were the opposite of undefeated from 1971-72, won four in 1973, and soon after took the district championship.
Was it a fluke, or was it Coach Howard Johnson? It was the coach.
Today the North Bend Bulldogs play as the most dominant team on the entire Oregon coast. My era never won a game against neighboring Marshfield. This era has never lost to the mighty Pirates.
Is it fair for baby boomer Bulldogs to ride the coattails of the new breed, to jump on their bandwagon? Chances are, as a player, you never jumped off, especially if you didn't play college ball.
Losing leaves more unfinished business in your life. You are a winner, but the ghost still hangs around. Because of that you make an extra effort here, go an extra mile there, and things come into focus.
That's the magic of sports too often overlooked. The non-fan sees a stadium full of screaming nut cases, bands with too many tubas, and cheerleaders flying in the air. All it means to them is a waste of time.
Note to non-fan: These people are working things out in public. If they didn't do it at the game, they'd do it somewhere else. Take the energy of a riot or demonstration and focus it on support and help and feel the difference. It's right there inside the stadium.
When life deals you a bad hand, take a moment to reflect on your high school football experience. Whether from the field, the stands, or the parking lot, there's power to draw on.
Be the difference maker when it matters. Today's tip: it always matters.
Forty years away from the Friday night lights will bring a different focus for the young men wearing the Brown and Gold today.
Their memories will last the same lifetime it has for the rest of us, just sweeter.