Now I’m not a fanatical soccer fan, but I do enjoy the fever and tension of a good soccer match, particularly when elimination from the World Cup is at hand. It’s the determination (or lack thereof) of the team on the verge of expulsion that makes for fascinating observing. Will they cave or will they never give-up? And what is it that determines whether it’s the former or the latter?
Well this past Saturday made for interesting spectating when Germany (reigning World Champions) came a hair’s length away from being eliminated by Sweden in the first round at the World Cup. A national catastrophe was in the making! Surely their coach would have felt the full brunt of it just as the Brazilian coach did during the last World Cup (see Defeat: An Opportunity to Never Lose Heart…). But instead, Germany rallied and in spite of playing with one less man on the pitch, they came back to win the game with a miracle-like free kick in the remaining seconds of extra time. Harrowing to say the least!
What is it that drives forward a team, or a person for that matter, when victory seems insurmountable? What is it that keeps one team going while another succumbs to defeat without the will and determination to fight on? No doubt, psychologists have been asking this question since Sigmund Freud hypothesized that sex is the sole motivator and Alfred Adler theorized that it’s all about power. And then came Carl Jung with his thoughts on the collective psyche and a force that reaches beyond space and time. Deep stuff for a 500-word blog, but nonetheless a worthwhile ask!
No matter the reason, it seems the propensity to carry on when the going gets tough can be a precarious thing at best. Some people train and train and yet when crunch-time appears, they wither before the challenge and fail to accomplish the task at hand. Training may enhance the chance of success, but it’s certainly not the guarantor of it. It seems that there’s a certain extra ingredient, a certain extra something that yields that ever so minute difference between success and failure – a certain ‘chutzpah’ of sorts, if you will.
Whatever it is, that certain ‘chutzpah’ showed up on the soccer pitch when German midfielder Toni Kroos, with seconds to go, kicked a rapid-fire ball curving beautifully into their opponent’s net. Stunned, Sweden’s goalkeeper Robin Olsen and his teammates looked on. Simultaneously, shock and euphoria struck the Sochi stadium as it did for fans the world-over. The words speechless, disbelief, victory and collapse merged into a cauldron of emotion that boiled over in the high energy and tense atmosphere that the World Cup is. And with it, the words “Never give-up” took on a whole other dimension.
Perhaps Jung was right after-all? As that ball sailed across the goal-line, space and time seemed momentarily suspended. And the will to never give-up prevailed…
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