Friday, 2 July 2010

A Selecão will rise again

I remember a few years ago when actor Johnny Depp went into a restaurant and ordered only the very finest wine on the menu, ordered the most expensive caviar and meals, and racked up a bill in the thousands, and paid it without so much of a smirk on his face.

A writer from the Vancouver Sun remarked that it was like the story of a man who dies and goes to Hell. This doomed man is an avid fisherman, and in Hell, he is sent to eternity in a fishing boat. He has a fishing rod, and he has a fishing line. He has hooks, lines, sinkers and bait in his boat. He has everything he needs.

“This is great,” he thought. “Hell can’t be so bad if I get to do this for eternity!”

He casts the line. As soon as the line hits the water, he catches the biggest trout he has ever seen in his life. He reels it in, holds it up as it flaps around mightily, and he remarks: “Why, if this is Hell, I can live with it!”

He puts the trout in the boat, and casts a fresh line. Again, he catches a trout as soon as the hook hits the water. He reels it in, holds it up in front of him, and thinks, Hell isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s wonderful. He gets to do what he loves, for eternity.
And again, he casts a fresh line. Again, a trout bites when the hook hits the water.

And again.

And again.

And again.

It’s too perfect. He never has to work to get it again. He never has to anticipate. He never has to be disappointed. He is doomed to catch that fish every single time for the rest of eternity.

The man is starting to feel despondent. He no longer appreciates catching a large trout. He no longer is excited to bring it home to his family.

He is no longer enjoying the art of fishing.

Same for Johnny Depp. He has access to everything, and has forgotten how to appreciate the finer thingsin life.

That is Hell. For Johnny Depp and this man, Hell is a place where he can never be disappointed. So when he is never let down, never disappointed, he is never happy when he has everything he wants and everything he needs at the snap of fingers.

Now let’s take that to Brazil. For the second straight World Cup, Brazil has experienced crushing disappointment at the hands of, first, the Frenchmen in 2006 and then, the Dutch in 2010. As is the case in every single World Cup, Brazil is expected to win. And now, an entire country is bowing its head, despondent, angry, disappointed. The Brazilians are struggling to rationalize and explain what has happened.

Let’s string up Felipe Melo.

Let’s send Dunga to the guillotine.

Let’s DO something.

But what do you expect? The Brazilians are among the world’s best at the fine art of football. You know that. I know that. Everyone knows that. But, like the fisherman, like Johnny Depp, if they won every single time, the Brazilians would never be disappointed, and therefore, would never be so excited if they won, because they know they’ll win.

And by some strange paradox – because this is not Hell - because they know they will win every time, they’ll stop working hard at winning, and therefore would lose. That would have made a Hell out of their Heaven on Earth. This is what happened in the last two World Cups. Self-entitlement took over.

But because they have to deal with disappointment, the Brazilians will be better. They have to work harder. They know they are among the best and they will rise again. They do this because they are challenged and they expect great things from themselves. And because of their devastating losses to France and Holland, they can become indomitable once again.

July 2, 2010 could be a catalyst in Brazilian soccer. I saw it happen with the Canadians in hockey. For many years, we dominated on the ice and started to truly believe we were the best. Then we lost, devastatingly, to the Americans in the World Cup of Hockey in 1996, and shat the bed in the 1998 Winter Olympics with professional players in the lineup for the first time. This woke us up. We realized we had to work harder. We rebounded. And now we have gold in 2002 Salt Lake, and gold in 2010 Vancouver.

Do you think we would have won those golds if we hadn’t lost in 1996 and 1998? Nope, not by a long shot.

So, as it is for Brazil, and unlike the fisherman, unlike Johnny Depp, disappointment brings us one step closer to triumph. A Selecão is hardly doomed.


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