Soccer Should Learn from the X-Games

How many times have we seen this? The final whistle blows, one team is the winner, and the other is the loser. The loser is expected to look disappointed, maybe a little dejected, no visible signs of even a smile, and make sure you are not sharing a laugh, that would be unheard of. In the past two months I have heard this narrative repeated by commentators on TV, and seen it written in the news, time and time again. How could the England players in the Euro’s be enjoying themselves after drawing with Scotland? How could Eden Hazard be smiling and having a laugh after the game with his old teammates? It was seen as extremely unacceptable. This is also the same message we are teaching the kids, we want them to know that the game is about winning trophies, nobody remembers second place, and winners have that something special. If we lose their must have been something wrong? 

This whole narrative is nonsense to me. What Pele said is that the game is about one thing, “Love”. For me personally, I want to win everything all the time, but the game is a special gift shared between two teams and the fans, soccer is a celebration of art, life, hope, passion, culture, love and much more. When the final whistle blows, each individual is entitled to feel however they feel, they don’t have to feel disappointed just because you do. Maybe they feel proud to have given everything, and they are strong enough to sincerely be happy for the other team that beat them.  When you watch the X-Games it is refreshing to see the best in the world trying hard to beat each other, but they also cheer for each other, and celebrate each athletes successes.  They prove their doesn’t have to be some weird hatred thing going on in order to win a game. We often get caught up in one tribe vs another tribe, and only winning will satisfy, but for me it is more about giving everything you have, at the end of the 90 minutes if you have done that, you have the right to be proud your efforts, win or lose. If being proud means cracking a smile, exchanging shirts, hugging someone, clapping, then that’s ok with me.