Friday, July 09, 2010

Lessons from the World Cup part VII: "Spectators"

Watching soccer is interesting. Watching people watch soccer is more interesting. At times they sit on the edge of their seats, beer suspended pre-swig in midair, breath held. They chorus in collective groans at the near-misses and yelps of "Yes! Yes!" when their team scores. It's understandable. Your adrenalin pumps as the excitement on the field rises. 

What I don't get is when people shout instructions to the players. I understand that technology has come a long way from the old flickering TV screens and you can now watch the game in HD or even 3D. I didn't know that the new-fangled sets allow the players to hear you.

Ok, we all know they can't hear you. We all know that fans play the game vicariously through the footballers they watch. But, seriously, why the screaming?

It gets more extreme than that. 

When we realized that we would battle for a Mincha-Maariv minyan on the evening of the South Africa- France game, I arranged for the guys to watch the game together at someone's house and we'd daven Mincha during half-time (I can be pragmatic, sometimes). 

Mincha took a little longer than expected and the guys got back to the game a few minutes into the second-half. Nothing serious had happened in the first few minutes of play, so everyone should have been happy. What nobody noticed was that one of the guys had slipped into the room ahead of the pack and PVR'ed the game back to the beginning of the second half. When the others found out, a raucous debate ensued: Some wanted to watch every minute of the action, while the others argued that there would be no point in watching a live game if they were not going to watch it live. 

In life, there are times when you are the player and times when you're only a spectator. When you're the player- when you can do something about a situation- play with everything you've got. When you're a spectator- when things happen that are beyond your control- don't scream and shout, because it won't help. Don't try control what you can't control and don't live in the past, because the live game will pass you by.

Some people live life as players. They get things done. Others are spectators. They make no meaningful contribution, but have plenty of advice for everyone else. If you find yourself feeling critical of everyone else, it may be a symptom that you're living as a spectator. When that happens, get up and do something proactive.

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