Life Lessons I Have Learned from Playing Madden

Zachary HabnerCorrespondent IMay 30, 2009

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 2:  Players compete during the EA Sports Madden Bowl on February 2, 2006 at the Colony Club in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Sometimes you look for other inspirations in life to teach you something other than your parents—I turned to Madden.

For those who have never played Madden, imagine immersing yourself into something for nine hours only to remember you have forgotten to eat, missed class, have not showered, and have your parents on the verge of filing a missing person report.

That is exactly what Madden is like for some individuals, but for me, it has been more than an escape from reality—it is a gateway to many life lessons I have learned in my young life.  Here are my favorite lessons I can personally thank John Madden for.

Playing It Safe Is Always the Best Policy


Many of us would disagree.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “take a chance on something; it could change your life!”  Very rarely is this true.

In Madden, you always take the 40 yard field-goal on a 4th-and-10 from the opposing team’s 23 yard-line, even though you have a tall wide receiver who could school that weak corner. They're points on the board and it gives you momentum against your opponent.

In life it is the same way.  Imagine you go to a restaurant, and while you already had a preconceived notion of what you were going to order, you still give the menu a chance. 

Then some magical dish catches your eye.  It looks good, it has everything you like, and the waiter even says it's his choice.  What do you do?  I always revert to my 40 yard field-goal and go with what I already know is a good dish. 

I have tried to go for it on 4th-and-10—more often than not, I end up regretting that decision.  The food is terrible and I never eat there again and the waiter who gave me the “good advice” gets zilch for his tip.

Hail Marys Never Work


Unless you’re playing the computer on beginner mode, Hail Marys never work.  Usually you chuck up a prayer from your strong armed QB to the wide out who has an absurd amount of height in hopes he comes down with it.

Usually, the QB either gets a sack, throws it too far, or the opposing team knocks it down.  Hail Marys are a praying chance that rarely gets answered.

The same goes for life as well.  Let’s say you’re walking through the mall and you spot the really, really good looking girl from school or work.  You have had a crush on her for a while, but you rarely talk to her.  Until today, when you decide you want to throw up a Hail Mary and see if she will go out with you.

Sometimes it works and you execute flawlessly.  More often than not however, you fumble, get sacked, or get rejected.  I always revert back to Madden in this instance.  Instead of trying to win the game with one play, try setting yourself up for victory with several small plays.  Talk to her, get to know her, and try not to get stuck in the friend zone.

Patience Is a Virtue Rarely Followed

Madden taught me that I have zero patience in life.  Usually on my first play of the game, I go deep to my No. 1 receiver in an attempt to score quickly.  Than in some act of poetic justice, I get intercepted and my best WR goes down with a knee injury.

If I had just set up the defense with a couple of runs and then hit a deep play-action pass, I could have secured that early lead with both my WR and dignity still intact.

No question this is true in real life as well.  Imagine studying for a test for a week.  You feel confident and ready to show that you know the material. 

Then comes test day.  You sit down, are handed your multiple choice test and you fly right through it, finishing in 20 minutes when you have two more hours to go.

You receive your score and find out it was extremely lower than you had thought it would be.  You realize that you answered some of the questions with blatant wrong answers in an effort to finish quickly.

Had you taken your time to establish your dominance, your grade could have been much higher.

Life Is Short, Have Fun!


A game of Madden usually lasts about 30 minutes maximum.  You get so into the game you realize you have broken your controller and made your wife/girlfriend so mad, she left to go shopping—with your credit card!

Just relax and remember it’s just a video game.  Winning and losing mean nothing really, just enjoy the fact you got to relax.

Life is the same way.  You realize how much you hate work that it makes you angry every day.  Just remember to take a step back and separate life from work.  Enjoy the time you have away from it.


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