World Cup Soccer Plays Life

World Cup Soccer Plays Life

I’ve been watching World Cup soccer. Introduced by my grandsons who played in high school, I’m a fan of the game. And now, this year, this World Cup, I am joined by millions of other Americans who watched the awesome game against Ghana, who watched and held their breath during the tense game against Germany.


America is playing soccer! We don’t have to mumble and stumble in front of the European and South American teams any longer. We are in the game!


And speaking of being in the game, I love the television long shots. The shots of the entire field: seeing the players on both sides moving, running, setting up their plays, twisting and turning with the ball. They miss the pass; they go after it. They fall down, hug their knees, breathe and get up or are pulled up by an opponent or a pal and they are back. No going off to sulk, no whining, a grimace, maybe a wince, but getting back in the game any way they can as quickly they can. That is the goal; that’s their commitment.


I love seeing the patterns of the plays as one guy passes to a spot where his teammate might not even have arrived yet, but the kicker knows he will be there in time. I love how they back each other up, covering, pointing and anticipating.


 You may think I’m crazy but it’s such a metaphor for life, this game. I know it’s a battle that I am watching. Occasionally it is outright fierce and people get hurt. But think about it. We get knocked down in life, too--sometimes really hard, and we get back up. We also strive toward difficult and challenging goals; we just define them differently.


On our best days we are there for each other in extraordinary ways, anticipating, positioning ourselves to receive the ball should it be passed to us. And we’re ready to move with it: whatever needs to be done. We juggle the workload, family life, and complicated schedules and, constantly moving from point to point, we stay in the game—even when, as it can happen, we can’t wait for half time to come.


 Take a look at the whole field next time you watch. Everyone is in motion: a giant dance of intense purpose and meaning. When we are fully awake and alive that’s who we are. Like the great soccer players, we are alert, ready to move: ready to be where we need to be to make our lives work, not just for ourselves but for those around us, for those who count on us and, conceivably, for some whom we may never even have met.


 On the field we see, at least for a period of time, what it means to bond with other human beings in a shared purpose, human beings totally in the moment, making a whole- hearted commitment to what they are doing together right now.


This is how we should live.




You might want to check out the new, weekly ESPN sports podcast: In The Loop. Three young men--my grandsons--“chopping it up” on radio with charm, humor and top-ranking sports savvy. 


Written for Unleash Potential by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at