If you know anything about me, you know I love soccer. To the point that I call it football, a habit that shamefully borders on lame in some quarters. But I like soccer so much I end up watching games with soccer people and reading soccer news written by soccer people. And those people? Expats who come from countries where they call soccer football. So I get kinda used to it. Because it's football.
If you know anything else about me, you know I'm not a great team player. I like to do things on my own, more or less. Not so much a loner really, because I like people, more like a person who doesn't like to do things with other people. Like driving to go surf. I'll meet you at the beach but I'd rather not drive there with you. Get it? I have my limits.
I think these limits have always hampered me in team oriented stuff of course. I'll admit that. In school I could never figure out how to fully respect a shouting coach I played for. I could never figure out how to stick with a sport that required my undivided attention. I could never get with the idea of accountability to my my school mascot or whatever.
A lot of people have had this experience. There are lots of non-team-sports oriented people out there.
But I love soccer. I love the pace and the style and the tactics and the athleticism. I love that you have to watch every moment of game to enjoy it. Look away once and you've missed all the build up to that whiff of a chance. Not even the build up to a goal, but the build up to a miss! Miss a moment and miss the game. And that's two uninterrupted 45 minute halves of zen eye glue.
And now my first son loves soccer. Almost surely because I love soccer. And I'm watching him go through the motions of being part of a team. A serious-ish team that they don't just call a team or a league but they actually call an academy. Which is how you know it's serious. And it's fascinating. It's fascinating to relive vicariously the contradictions and agonies of team sports.
And the most fascinating contradiction of all? The fact that team sports teach one amazing thing that you just don't get anywhere else. Not leadership, or discipline or commitment or sacrifice. No, team sports teach one how to cheat. How to get away with murder. And most importantly how not to lose one's cool when someone else just got away with murder. Because that's what happens on the field of play. Rampant, relatively unimpeded skulduggery. And as a player, you gotta take it or else you lose! Invaluable.
Last night I watched the Democratic debates for a little while. I say "for a little while" because after that little while I had to turn it off. Starting off with that embarrassing title roll at the beginning that felt like a crumby parody of a MMA fight teaser, moving on to the ridiculous stammering each candidate couldn't get over and, for me, finishing up with Bernie Sanders not quite getting his vocal fingers around any sort of clear statement regarding gun control. It was all so depressing.
But I'm sad I missed this. Something that's been all over the social media, but deserves all the attention it gets. If only because it shouldn't even have to be said.
"I am very very grateful to be on this stage with this distinguished group of candidates tonight. And what you heard tonight ... was a very very different debate from the sort of debate that you heard from the two presidential republican debates.
On this stage you didn't hear anyone denigrate women, you didn't hear anyone make racist comments about new American immigrants. You didn't hear anyone speak ill of another American because of their religious beliefs. What you heard was an honest search for the answers that will move our country forward, to move us to a 100 percent clean electric energy grid by 2050.
To take the actions that we have always taken as Americans, so that we can actually attack injustice in our country, employ more of our people, rebuild out cities and towns, educate our children at higher and better levels, and include more of our people in the sociopolitical and economic life of our country.
I truly believe that we are standing on the threshold of a new American progress, unless you become discouraged about our gridlock in Congress, talk to our people under 30. You'll never find among them people who want to bash immigrants, people who want to deny rights to gay couples. That tells me we are moving to a more connected, generous, compassionate place, and we need to speak to the goodness within our country".
That's pretty great. And then I read this quote today by that actress who played Anna Wintour in that movie with the girl from Les Miserables.
“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.
I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”
That's pretty good too. But a totally different kind of good.