15 August 2014

Potential & Ambition: Misnomers in Football

By Dr3


We like to believe that football somehow exists outside of our society. Outside of our respective cultures. It's a world that's as repulsive; be it for exorbitant wages or cake-driven megalomaniacal rants, as it is glamorous and desirable. Every now and then though, we are reminded that what it is in fact, is an extension of us, as we are now.

There is racism. There is sexism. There is tax evasion. There is spousal/marital issues. There is political favoritism. There is institutionalized inequality now, thanks Platini. There is also, a preoccupation with labeling and projecting onto others.

That quip about living so old, so as to no longer wrestle with peer-pressure has always fascinated me. Recently talk of Robinho and his legacy as a former prodigy came up, and it too was fascinating. The concept of unfulfilled potential. The concept of a lack of drive and ambition, and what it all meant for his life retrospectively. The Robinho who played for his national team? The Robinho who played for Real Madrid? The Robinho who played for AC Milan? The Robinho who was the marquee signing of a newly-rich project? Surmised with purple prose as a failure. A flop.

Reading definitions of ambition have become laughable. The fact that a person can be accused of a lack of ambition, by another person, puts to rest all notions of the concept being entirely self-driven. Combined with the idea of potential or even talent, and the pattern was clear; This has nothing to do with the Robinhos. The players. These people. Their careers. Their desires. Their lives. This is about us. You, me, and a projector. A movie we want to make, and critique ourselves.


Imagine for a second doing well enough in your field of work, that your name is known by people you don't know, in cities you don't know, or even in countries that you don't know. Yes, football is a globalized well-marketed monster, but it's played by millions. What's the probability of a person from São Vicente (population 300,000+), in São Paulo (population 42,000,000+), in Brazil (population 200,000,000+), becoming league champion in Spain (population 40,000,000+)? It's incredible. And yet the sentiment is one of regret. From us; he had the potential to be so much more.

We create a narrative. Create hype. Retweet our own tweets. Like our own status'. Then, we project. Falcao has no ambition for going to Monaco. Gyan has no ambition for going that east. Pato never delivered on his potential. Balotelli won't deliver on his either. But what about Quaresma? Veron? Shevchenko? Riquelme? They did what we wanted. And we massacred them in our reviews. Are they now failures? Did they not realize their potential? Didn't they show ambition? What would hindsight say to them when they're no longer in our conversation, free of proverbial peer-pressure?

Be careful what you wish for...others.


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