The Sexiness of Short Term Results and America’s Hatred for Soccer
America’s favorite sport is professional football. It’s the winner over and over each year.
Most Americans hate professional soccer.
Ok, hate is a strong word. But in a 2014 survey a mere 6% of Americans considered men’s soccer their favorite. And this is a high estimate, it’s up from 3% from previous year. The jump is likely due to the success of the USA men’s team in the World Cup.
Pretty much all of Europe, Asia, Central American, and South America love soccer. It requires strategy, long-term thinking, persistence, and stamina. The games may not be high scoring, but the moment of the score is pure jubilation. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!
In football there is a small win every few plays. Within every three to four plays their is either a first down, scoring play, turnover, or a forced punt. That’s the only logical outcome within those finite parameters.
These small wins occur fast and frequently.
In football, the battle is fought on a grid iron where warriors fight for every inch of turf. When a runner or receiver advances the ball a mere tenth of the field, it’s cause for celebration. First down!
I would argue that neither soccer thinking nor football thinking is inherently wrong. It’s just a cultural way of quantification.
Americans, by and large, focus on small wins and quick results. We’ve only been a nation for a mere 240 years. Our forefathers came to this country, laid claim to the land and then kicked the incumbents asses to make it our own. The war for American Independence, in the scale of human history, lasted a mere blink of an eyelid.
This short term thinking permeates American life today. The average marriage lasts 8 years. The average time spent in a new house is just over 4 years. Our President is only in office for a maximum 8 years. Meaning that during a typical term, nearly half of it is dominated by campaigning. Hell, the average life span has increased but it’s still less than a century.
America moves fast. That’s something that has made it great. As a country, We innovate and adapt quickly. We’re happy to mark each flip of the calendar with, “that’s so last season.”
A Danish lady that I once worked with told me that the Danish political philosophy is, “It’s too early to tell.” A countries who’s ancestors were once called Vikings. This country was officially on the books long before the historically documented discovery of the “New world”. So even after a century, it’s too early to call.
I love football. It’s absolutely my favorite sport. My favorite sports team is the Green Bay Packers. They’re one of the sports longest playing and most storied franchises. One of the few original professional football teams and the oldest team not to change locations.
The tongue in cheek acronym for NFL is ‘Not For Long’. Meaning, players, coaching staffs, team locations, and management groups don’t stick around very long barring positive results.
I’m American as apple pie and white bread. But, I don’t think the American way of thinking always serves us.
Instead of sticking to a process over years we look for quick results.
We can easily log into Instagram and see photos of amazing life transformations that have occurred in the short course of six months. But these results come at what cost? Eating disorders, nutritional deficiencies, elicit stimulants and supplements along with an unhealthy lifestyles masquerading as “fitness”.
If shows like The Profit, Restaurant Impossible, Biggest Loser, and Bar Rescue have taught me anything, it’s that America digs overnight transformations. I would almost bet the majority of the featured businesses and contestants backslide after their triumphant reveal. It takes more than a week and ten grand to transform a business. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic will never save the ship.
Real change takes a shift in consciousness to occur. It means restructuring priorities. It’s about acquiring a new philosophy. It means stripping away a toxic internal culture and filling the vacuum with a healthier one.
We have some fucked up ideals in America. We want everything now. I’m guilty as hell. I have many goals that have gone by the wayside over the years. I want the outcome, but not at the sacrifice of the the price I’d have to pay get it.
We need to do the real work if we want true change. We need to live in a spirit of consistency, hard work, constant evaluation, and course correction. It’s hard for us sometimes to see the forest for the trees. Take a step back and realize that we may need to make changes. We too often look outward at what others are doing rather than inward at our own bullshit.
We’re guilty of looking at the mediocre result of an effort and internalize it. We think, well that’s just typical me. This always happens. We’re then glad to quit and resign ourselves to a tub of Haagen-Daz.
We need to take the soccer approach and combine it with the football approach. Count the small wins, the first downs and field goals. But we need to remember, the long game strategy of soccer is superior. We may not score many goals, but the process is part of the win.