Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New rules for a very old game.

Imagine a man so subversive that he steps onto a soccer field and tells the referee that the rules of the game don't cut it. After all, he points out, the players keep breaking the rules. They keep tripping up themselves and their opponents. They use their hands when they're supposed to be using their feet. They aim for each other instead of the ball. The referee tells the man that if he doesn't like the rules of the game, he can just as well get off the playing field. You're offsides, the referee says. 

But the man won't leave the field. He tells the referee that he's missing the point.  The ref won't listen. The rules are fine, he convinces himself. The subversive player tells the ref it's not that rules aren't fine, it's just that they're not enough. For the game to be better, you don't need better rules, you need better players. If you want to stop players from fouling each other, the yellow card is always going to be too late. You need to stop the players from fouling each other by instilling good sportsmanship into the hearts and minds of the players.

The ref gets all sarcastic at this point. He tells the man that his ideas are just a bit too 'pie in the sky'. The man says, that's okay, 'cos he made the sky that holds the pie. He claims to have invented this game. The ref gets so angry at this point that he sends the player off. Red card. What kind of a man would claim such a thing? The rules are enough, he says. The rules are enough

We just need to keep telling ourselves the rules are enough. Just keep repeating this solid, easily digestible maxim to yourself so that you don't have to face up to the fact that, no matter how hard you try, you're just not the kind of sport that you want to be. Stick to your neat platitudes so that you don't have to realise that they're just not true, or, at least that they're not what you'd hoped they'd be.

Maybe that man, subversive as he may seem, is absolutely, unequivocally, irrefutably right. 

Now what?

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