Finally it’s happened. After all these years. About time too. Following decades of bewilderment and confusion, everything’s clicked and I’ve joined the masses. I finally appreciate the game of soccer!
For the longest I’ve tried to embrace it. After all, I consider myself a worldly man and soccer’s the world’s game. More than 250 million players in over 200 countries play it, according to Wikipedia. That makes soccer the most popular sport on Earth. Sorry Baseball.
It took a while. A long while. Hours of watching. Years of questioning. But at long last it’s official: I love soccer. It happened sometime during this year’s World Cup.
One moment I’m watching guys run up and down the field aimlessly kicking the ball to each other, trying to score. The next, I’m witnessing artful athletes exhibiting uncanny control of their bodies to execute a team strategy to outdo their opponents. Why did it take so long?
|Winning hit or errand pitch: depends on your viewpoint|
My eventual appreciation developed about the same way it did for soccer. Actually, in the case of baseball, it also took a six-pack of beer (in my 20s) and an expert friend of mine patiently explaining the game’s rich complexity.
So it was with football; the U.S. variety. For years as a kid, the game seemed merely to consist of two teams hurling their bodies violently into each other. I thank TV’s 50 yard line viewing angle of the game for my limited outlook.
It took going to a college game and sitting in nose-bleed seats to understand linemen weren’t simply hitting the opponent directly in front of them. They were pulling, cross-blocking, drawing and all sorts of schemes with the hike of the ball. Viewed from that higher angle, things were completely different.
The game changer in all these cases? My point of view. That is, I shifted my perspective in ways that offered a different manner of looking at things. Easier said than done in a lot of instances, and not just sports.
Expanding your viewpoint can open your mind’s eye to new possibilities. Trouble is, we often get stuck believing our point of view is rooted in hard fact. Actually, in most instances, how we think about things is based on previous experiences, mood, cultural norms, our health… any number of factors. All of them can conspire to persuade us in one direction or another – regardless of what is truth.
Such misperceptions become problematic when a person’s point of view about important social issues, like matters of race, comes into play. It can be easy for a white person to say he doesn’t see color. Easy, because his perspective is rooted in experiencing the world as a white person. And the majority of systems, policies and media convey the perception that “white is right.” And that’s wrong.
|Same stairs: two outlooks|
A person with a disability might hold a more complex perspective. Depending on their ability, will the ticket booth be low enough to buy a ticket? Are there elevators or just stairs? Will there be accessible viewing spaces for little people or for those with wheel chairs?
It can be challenging and even feel impossible to expand your viewpoint. Yet when things finally do click, it can all be worthwhile. And I’m not just talking sports.
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.