I love the ebb and flow of international football. There is something magical when everyone on the pitch knows his place, anticipates the actions of others, and moves the ball with an ease that suggests effortlessness but is anything but. The fact that the crowd is roaring its approval, singing songs, and celebrating does nothing to distract. If anything, the noise and distractions motivates one or both teams to raise their game(s)!
As I think of recent games, there are two extremes that play out. On one hand, it can be teamwork creating great music, creating hope in the supporters and earning respect from those aligned with the other side. When neither team is playing well, it is a discordant, mind numbing, and often a headache creating experience.
The great players seem to use the crowd to increase the quality of individual and team play. They sense the hope and support, riding that waive to react faster and more intelligently than anyone thinks possible. Great footwork, precision passing, and stunning defense dominate the action. It is as if the stage they are playing on raises the quality of their game.
In contrast, other individuals and teams are overwhelmed. The crowd dominates their actions. When they are playing away, they seem to be a shadow of their abilities. Winning does not seem to be their goal; it is all about survival and trying to stay in the league.
Watching my team triumph and then stumble reminds me what it is like to look in the mirror. I would love to say that the adversity and distractions always motivate but sometimes they just take their toll. It would be misleading to suggest that my focus always remains on the game and the moment at hand.
I listened to an interview and realized that great players never do it all on their own. They talked of the team and staying true to each other. Winning takes more. David’s point can guide; “Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he [God] says.” (Psalm 46.6)