HEADLESS: The magic comes when the players stop thinking

I might be out of my mind here, but I think I’ll talk about football for the third week in a row.
I mean I do realize this is supposed to be a business column, and that two weeks ago I wrote about the lead up to the World Cup and last week I wrote about going to one of the group matches, so part of me almost feels compelled to talk about something more financial this time.
On the other hand, I really do enjoy watching and writing about the beautiful game and like they say on SuperSport, this is a once in lifetime experience so I might as well make the most of it; besides, football is important stuff…really, it is.  I will make one concession, however, and aim this thing at non-football loving readers who find it difficult to believe so many people can be totally content watching three games a day, seven days a week.
So what is it about football played at the highest level that makes it so attractive to so many people all around the world?
I think the answer to that one is magic.
Many of us live fairly quiet lives and we have repetitive jobs that require us to plan out our daily routines. That means we don’t create much magic ourselves and we naturally crave the creativity that top-flight footballers produce on a regular basis.
I see it as an art form; and I’ve found that the very best performances only come when the players are pressed to their limits by the stiffest competition.
I can still remember Holland’s Denis Bergkamp pulling a 40-metre pass out of the air with his right instep as he ran at full-pace down the right wing in a 1998 World Cup match against the top ranked team in the World, Argentina.  He then slid the ball to his left, crossed over at a 45 degree angle, took two steps and fired a shot into the top left-hand corner of the goal with the outside of his right foot. It was pure instinct and it was one of the most beautiful and artistic things I have ever witnessed on a football pitch, in a theatre, in an art gallery or anywhere else.
Interestingly, when these kinds of performances take place in most any sport the commentators use similar phrases to describe what has happened: “He’s playing over his head…She’s playing out of her mind…He’s unconscious out there…” and I think those descriptions are deceptively accurate.
You see I believe these magic moments only come when we are pressed so hard that the decision-making part of our minds shuts down and our subconscious instincts are left to run the show.
Unfortunately that doesn’t happen to most of us much in this structured world we live in so I really don’t think wanting to write about football for three weeks in a row in a business column makes me out of my mind.  One of the reasons I love to watch the games, however, is that, at least for a little while, I would like to be.

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