In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by ghosts of past, present and future.
As Nebraska football fans we are well acquainted with the Nebraska Football Ghost of the Past. That is where we want to return. Time and time again we pull up old YouTube clips of the golden years. Those years continue to feel further and further away. Yet we try to hold those years close.
The Nebraska Football Ghost of the Present is not nearly as kind. It never wants to leave. It continues to remind Nebraska fans of the state of the program today. While we love it. We would love to see it go. It paints us a picture of overall inadequacy. In order for the Ghost of the Present to hang around it tries to feed us hope. Hope in Scott Frost. It is hard to find hope in a four win season, but yet that is where we find ourselves.
So what about the Nebraska Football Ghost of the Future?
What if tonight on Christmas Eve you get a new visitor after tucking yourself into bed? The visitor introduces itself as the Nebraska Football Ghost of the Future. The ghost is similar in appearance to the Ghost of the Past but there is one noticeable difference. The obvious glare of disappointment. The ghost has brought you the news of the future.
“While Nebraska football will rebound from the doldrums from which it came, it will never win another championship. It will contend, but the win will never come.”
The ghost sits down at the foot of your bed and looks you in the eye.
It gets up and walks through the bedroom wall to never be seen again.
In the end of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge decides to change his ways as a result of what he learns from the ghosts of past, present and future.
Would you change your ways after learning the news from the Nebraska Football Ghost of the Future? Would you leave? Why would you stay?
Admittedly I would wake up the next morning with a lot on my mind. There would be more than enough information to process. As human beings we are only allotted so much time in this life.
In these bodies we will live
In these bodies we will die
And the way you invest your love
You invest your life
-Mumford and Sons
So with the information you have been given would you decide to change? Would it still be worth it to invest time (your most valuable resource) in the Nebraska football program?
Being a fan of a team is like putting money in a slot machine and pulling the lever. You don’t want to leave because at some point when you pull the lever you will hit the jackpot. It is why we stay.
However, what if a manager tapped you on the shoulder to tell you that the while you’ll make money here or there, you’ll actually never hit the jackpot at that slot machine? I would stand up and leave.
But I wouldn’t leave Nebraska football.
At this point it is a part of my identity. Who am I? I am a Catholic, a husband, a father, a basketball coach, a friend and finally a Nebraska football fan. That might be my identity. There are many reading this who could say the same. They could be an atheist, a Muslim, a Christian, a wife, a mother, a nurse, a plumber, a student, a son, a daughter and in the end a Nebraska football fan.
So on Saturdays we can all gather together to cheer for Nebraska. This is true even if we are somewhere else around the world. A few years ago my wife and I were at a pub in Kenmare, Ireland. I was wearing a Nebraska hat. A man at the end of the bar had not said much the entire night. Then I noticed him pointing at me. We made eye contact. He smiled and so I returned a smile. Then he surprised me when he said, through his thick Irish accent.
“Go Big Red.”
Why would I want to give up something like that?
So even if I knew we would not win a championship I would not leave.
Besides, where else would I go?