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By Greg Shepard
Published: Spring 1999

Remember the Kenny Rogers song about the gambler? He sings, “you never count your money ‘til the dealin’s done.” The same rule applies to athletics, especially football. “You never start your dancin’ ‘til the game’s all done.”
I saw three games last Fall where players lost focus and where discipline broke down toward the end of the game. Dancin’ too early caused some very sad results.
The first example occurred in a semi-final high school playoff game. One team was undefeated and ranked number one in the state. Late in the game, they scored and the running back decided it was time to dance in the end zone. The officials promptly threw the flag. The extra point was no good because the kicker had an extra 15 yards. Their 8-point lead should have been 9-points. That difference is huge. Nine points means the other team must score twice. The other team scored in the last second and made their two-point conversion. This undefeated team then lost in double overtime. The dancer was now cryin’ on the bench. The season and the dream was over.
My second example happened in a Division I College game. A linebacker intercepted a pass and ran it in. With great joy, he began dancin’ and then lay on his back while flapping his arms and legs like he was making a snow angel. The fifteen yard penalty caused the kicker to miss. The team still won the game but the kicker had his consecutive extra point record stopped.
The third example was also in a Division I college game. A great athlete had just run a punt back for the touchdown to put his team within two points late in the game. They got the ball back with only a minute or so left. This same athlete then caught a long pass down to the 24-yard line in field goal position. The athlete had promised his grandmother and relatives that if he got the chance he would do something for them on television. Incredibly, he began to dance and to signal to the folks back home while still on the playing field.
The 15-yard penalty put his team back to the 39-yard line. The field goal was missed. The team lost the conference championship and an invitation to a bowl game. All this athlete had to do was wait one more minute before he began to dance.
You think of all the hours and effort by the team and coaches. All the conditioning in the off-season and all the effort during the season. Then it comes down to the last game in the last minute and you lose focus and discipline. No victory, no championship, no bowl game.

You never start your dancin’ till the game’s all done!

Dr. Greg Shepard
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