Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The ultimate "Beautiful Game"

I do love soccer. I played a bit in high school and college though never on a varsity team. I coached my son’s youth team until the players hit the sixth grade and became, for me at least, uncoachable.

At its best, soccer is spacing, triangulating, feinting, pacing, racing, passing and skill.

So I’ve been following the World Cup along with the rest of the world. Football, as everyone else calls it, is indeed a “Beautiful Game” . . . except when it is decided by a third team of referees and linesmen.

There have been far too many of those matches in this World Cup.

I suppose the most beautiful game in the world is one that doesn’t require referees, one in which the players work it out on their own somehow. Impossible. I can’t think of a single professional, competitive sport that doesn’t require a “third team” to make calls and, inevitably, play into the outcome.

We allow referees and umpires because these games are, after all, only games.

Unfortunately, serious human endeavors that do require rules to be enforced are often ungoverned. The economic meltdown of financial institutions in 2008 resulted from both a lack of regulation and regulators looking the other way.

Likewise the destruction of the environment.

And then there’s war, which shouldn’t be just regulated but outlawed. For that to happen, we’d need all kinds of regulations and enforcement. We’d also need a common, agreed upon definition of justice — economic, criminal and social.

The hope — and it can only be that — is that after years and years of regulation, education, experience and acculturation, we might not need rules. We’d just know what is right and do it.

It would be the ultimate “Beautiful Game” and we'd all be playing it together.

Don't ask about winners and losers. The play would be all about the game and doing it beautifully and right.

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