What I’m going to talk about, probably many or most of you have no idea. Well, you might know about it. But it’s very likely not the obsession for you that it is for me.
Yet the actual thing I want to talk about is universal and quite applicable to many people’s lives. It’s the way I want to get there that might need a bit of ‘splainin‘.
If you know me elsewhere, particularly in real life or on twitter, you know that I’m quite passionate about football. Soccer, Fußball, fútbol…whatever you want to call it. I could go into how I got into football, but that’s for another blogpost. Instead, I want to talk about my hometown team: FC Bayern München (although it’s my adopted hometown, it’s very much my home). In the interest of full disclosure, I should inform you that I support the other local club in Munich…again, that’s for some other time.
See, the local team lost an important match the other night, and it got me thinking about winning and losing. About success and failure. About the things that sport allegedly teaches us, but that are so often lacking at the highest levels.
Saying that this particular soccer game was important is an understatement. They were playing the final of the Champion’s League on their home pitch (their own stadium), which is something no-one had done since AS Roma in the 80s back when the Champion’s League was still called the Europa Cup. From what I understand, it’s never been won by the home side.
FC Bayern wanted to be the first. There was an air of inevitability about it. The football gods were assumed to be smiling down on this team. All was set up for their domination of the final match against what many thought was an inferior football team (London’s Chelsea FC).
But then the home team lost. Dramatically. Painfully, if you were a fan of said club. However, if you supported the visitor’s, the whole thing could not have been better scripted. You’d be much happier with those football gods in the post-game elation. Deities that you’d formerly cursed were now not only forgiven but even given their due. It was a beautiful night in the Bavarian capital for an English football organisation that had formerly experienced bitter defeat at the international level.
So those of you who could care less about sport…if you’re even still reading, what does this have to do with you? Actually, even if you have no interest in football, the bigger picture might have something to offer you. See, FC Bayern is quite proud of their ability to plan.
I could dislike the team for it’s success, but that is something I support and appreciate. Succeeding is all it’s cracked up to be. I suppose part of it is the money, but many football clubs at that level have astonishingly massive war chests. It’s not as if Chelsea is lacking for funds. Oh, and I could also fault the hometown club for their arrogance. Nothing surprising here. Any team, in any sport, that’s had as much success as they have, is likely to be arrogant about it.
But as much as I dislike all of those things, there’s one last component that irritates me as much as the others do. It might even annoy me more than the others. This is the bigger picture I was talking about.
They think that if they plan properly, then they’re guaranteed success. That quite simply one can organise and strategise his way to victory. That’s not how it works. Not in sport and most definitely not in life.
Now, you may be one of those self-actualised sorts who believe you can do anything if you put your mind to it. What do I have to say to that? Nonsense. Maybe you’ve had some success with that line of thinking. In all likelihood, you’ll have more. But my experience has been that as much planning one does, you can’t disregard the intangibles.
You can’t guarantee winning.
This is what sport is supposed to teach us. That you can fight and strive and struggle all you like, but eventually it could just not turn out the way you wanted. Not such a difficult concept to comprehend. Believing in one’s self or one’s destiny isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Even my seven-year-old niece understands that one.
The “if you see it, you can be it” crowd is full of it. In sports , as in life, things can take a funny bounce.
Dream away if you want, but be realistic.
There is a line from a Garth Brooks song that says,
“Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
And there is nothing I love more than watching a team or an individual who thinks they have the whole situation wired come up short.
I always through the one of the greatest ever texts on belief is contained in the Dire Straits song “Industrial Disease” describing some speakers in Hyde Park:
“Two men say they’re Jesus…one of ’em must be wrong”
The things I’ve worked hardest to win – well, sometimes I’ve won them. And sometimes I haven’t. But the things that I’ve been happiest about, it seems, are the happy accidents. I like the accidents. The coincidences. The magic. Those are my favorite things. The ones you weren’t expecting; the ones you had no expectations toward, so you can’t be disappointed if they don’t live up. I like those. The underdog wins. Those are mine. I claim those.
(On an unrelated and petty note: I also kind of like to see the person who’s sure they’re going to win something lose. It’s small of me, but I don’t like people that make assumptions about something. I like a good dose of humility in humans. I mean, sure, it’s fine to be proud of oneself. I just don’t think you need to broadcast it in the streets. Shush, town criers of self-importance.)