Open Mouth, Insert Football: Fourth quarter is our quarter

Ben Morrow
Sports Columnist

 

If you watch much basketball or football, late in the game you will often see athletes walking to the sidelines with four fingers stuck in the air. Their message is simple.

“Yes, I’m tired. Yes, it’s been a long game. Yes, my lungs are on fire. Yes, I’d rather throw up or lie down or drink a gallon of water than go run my butt off some more. But the fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.”

Something more powerful than exhaustion motivates them. To them this is it. This is the fourth quarter. Do or die time. Time for them to finish what they started.

This is exactly where we are as students on the academic calendar. It’s the fourth quarter. The final week of the semester.

You’ve put the finishing touches on most of your papers. You’re ready for that final presentation. You’ve managed to show up (mostly) to class on a regular basis. Only finals loom before you. You’ve even walked to the sidelines for a quick breather (a.k.a. Thanksgiving Break). Now it’s the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.

You’re on the verge of being burned out. You’ve read one too many hair-brained philosophers that never left their ivory towers. Your teachers are on your last nerve. That guy in class who won’t shut up is once again reminding everyone of just how awesome he is. Everyone seems to be on edge.

Take a breath. Clear your head.

The fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.

You rush to the library to tie up projects that you’ve pushed to the last minute, only to have your focus destroyed by “that guy” on the phone yelling at his girlfriend in what is supposed to be a quiet zone. Do I need to know all the sordid details of their latest drunken fight? Apparently I do. So much for concentration. (Dude, you know who you are, and it’s not cool.)

Sigh. Relax. Breathe. Push through it.

The fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.

You get hit by a last-minute assignment. Another teacher thinks her class is the only one you’re taking. You’re pulling so many all-nighters you think you’re personally keeping Starbucks in business. Now it’s snowing and you’ve got a cold.

“Great. Now I feel like studying.”

Pop some Advil. Swig some coffee. Suck it up.

The fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.

Wait. Now my job wants me to work more hours on finals week? So being sleep-deprived and weighed down with a cold isn’t enough of a challenge? You’re right. I didn’t need to study the night before my final anyway.

Sigh. Calm down. It’s OK. You can do this.

The fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.

Schedule next semester’s classes? I don’t even want to think about more classes. For that matter, am I going to get through these? I can’t even see ahead to Winter Break. I’m bogged down. I’m dying here.

Calm down. Settle yourself. You’ll be fine.

The fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.

So how will you survive the last week of finals? How do you get through that book you’d rather eat than read? How do you shove life to the side and juggle your group projects, your speeches, your papers, your presentations and your final exams?

It’s time for some time management. It’s time to say no to some friends. It’s time to turn off the TV. It’s time to roll out of bed. It’s time to put on some music, or whatever motivates you to action. It’s time to crack open some books. It’s time to purposefully remove yourself from all the distractions. It’s time to focus.

The fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.

This is where you earn it. This is where it matters. Those weeks when you coasted, partied, wasted time with friends and ambled through your days without a care in the world only served to get you right here – in this moment. This is where degrees are earned. This is why the diploma counts. This is where you earn your grade.

So pull on that helmet. Tighten up those cleats. Snap on that chinstrap. Slug some Gatorade and get out there. No whining. No excuses. Failure is not an option.

You can rest when the game is over. You can relax when the work is done. You’re almost there. Don’t quit now.

Finish strong. Play all four quarters. Leave it all out on the field until the clock reads zero.

Right here. Right now. Right here. Right now. Right here. Right now.

The fourth quarter is our quarter. Time to finish strong.

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