Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

The Beautiful Game Has Become Ugly

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” – Oscar Wilde

There are many people who would push back on me suggesting that soccer is an art form. That’s completely fine! A bunch of paint splatters or a urinal hung in a museum are not my cup of tea either. Given that art is subjective and mediums have change through time, I don’t think that I’m out of line to call the beautiful game, ART. Some of the best actors do not read from a script. Musicians jam and vamp with their bandmates far from the notes that are on the page. So in my estimation, a group of eleven people trying to find rhythm from chaos is a form of ballet as much as it is a sport. Whether you buy into my belief or not, at bare minimum, you understand where I’m coming from.

Painting of Pele by Andres Ramos.
Art imitating art!

Now let me take it back to the Oscar Wilde quote. Other people can dissect his words in any way that they like. For me, the idea that life imitates art comes from the fact that artists take their medium to extremes. Generally, life is not an extreme sport. In the beginning, humans needed to be conservative with their actions because our survival depended upon it. Even though there were cave paintings, they weren’t of spaceships or a flying squirrel suit. They showed hunters going after an animal. The art was in line or one step ahead of the time but it gave others something to imitate. As we progressed forward, the media of arts expanded and gave expression to the order of the day as well as more extreme ideas. Did the myths about the gods come about to explain them or give people license to emulate them?

Now that I’ve taken you through my thought process, I believe that our world is in distress due to our art. It’s not as simple as Tipper Gore would have liked. Her labels on explicit albums did not change the releasing of the art that she disliked. She simply made it taboo and therefore more desirable. Since the art that I care about is soccer, I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole. I am concerned about the artists on the field.

Soccer is called “the beautiful game” because it is a glory to behold when it is in its natural state. Eleven people trying to get the ball into the goal of the other team while defending their own. A match can have the highs and lows of a great symphony and all of the drama of a Greek tragedy. There is no lack of opportunity to raise the emotional experience to the heights that only artists can. An actor can give an audience chills when they personify a moment so perfectly with their earnestness. Unfortunately the hack actor can also nauseate an audience by faking it, not being true to the role and using tricks to skate by. It’s sad to see but that’s where we are. Players looking to game the system for the outcome rather than earnestly trying to get the result through their art. None of this is new and I know that my short musing about it will change little.

However, I truly believe that the flopping, diving and play acting has affected the world because soccer is art. Therefore, this writing, which is also an art form, could help to counteract it. A pebble in the pond, no doubt but I hope that it will ripple. If the artists who are playing at the highest level were to give up the hack tactics for a short time, would it change everything? Would kids stop flopping and taking the easy way? Would government officials stop taking shortcuts that hurt the people in their care? Would life again imitate art as it has so many times through history? I don’t know! I’d like to believe that it could. The problem is that so many things have become a business and art is a gift! So hopefully, some of the artists on the field can remember that they are making art to give to the world and it’s more than just the result. We’re all watching to be inspired toward our future selves. If you make “hack art” we’ll believe that that is en vogue. BUT if you give the gift of true expression with earnest effort, we’ll reflect that back as well.

Be an artist today!

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The Best There’s Ever Been

AliThere are often debates with sports about who is the “Best There’s Ever Been”.  In basketball, names like Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Wilt Chamberlain come up often.  In soccer, the names are usually Pele or Messi.  Muhammad Ali proclaimed himself to be the “greatest of all time”.  Many of these conversations are apples to oranges comparisons that are nothing more than opinion.  The positive side to these debates is that they give a peak model for the newcomers to follow.

For most of us, we were not born with the necessary tools to be the “best ever” in anything.  The books “The Talent Code” and “Outliers” outline many of the factors that contribute to the recipe of greatness.  Despite the lack of ingredients, there is no reason for the everyday person to shy away from the thought of greatness.  We must reach for rungs on a ladder that we are able to climb effectively.  By comparing myself to Messi, I’m setting myself up for failure and disappointment.  In order to find true comparative success in anything, there is one basis for comparison – self!

In ourselves we can find both our truest basis for comparison and our best competition.  “Never try to be better than someone else.  But rather be the best you can be.” is a quote from legendary UCLA coach John Wooden.  As we standardize test and rank everything from our number of friends to attractiveness, it seems as though we’ve become obsessed with comparison to others.  This obsession moves us farther from the comparison that we really must  do in front of a mirror or in our mind’s eye.  You don’t need to try to be the best there’s ever been.  You only need to be the best you that you’ve ever been.

Go do you!

Pete