Tag Archives: World Cup

Tim Howard and How You Play the Game

It is another one of those timeless clichés, “it’s not if you win or lose, it is how you play the game”.  At this moment in time, no one personifies that more than Tim Howard.  Granted, his “fame” in mainstream American consciousness might be fleeting, but when you are trending on Twitter and have sparked some classic internet memes, you might just have some staying power. #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave has been awesome!  It was not the record-setting 16 stops in a World Cup match, rather it is how he played and what he has said post game that makes all the difference.

There is no question, even to this marginal at best soccer fan, that Tim Howard’s performance on the pitch was nothing short of amazing.  He was a pleasure to watch, both in his skill and his level of committment and passion.  The guy gave his all in every match, setting an example for his teammates and earning the respect of opponents and fans throughout the world.  The guy is a professional.  He plays fulltime in the English Premier League, even I know enough to recognize that he is a world-class athlete.  The EPL is the top of the football world, and Tim Howard has perfected his trade in that crucible.

In all his post game interviews and on the morning infotainment circuit, he has been a class act.  He has praised his teammates, coaches, and opponents.  He has shown a level of committment to the team that has been refreshing.  He is a worker, the type of guy who quite literally plays hurt.  He is about the greater good, the team, the sport.  Just as the San Antonio Spurs were the epitome of team and class last month, so it is Tim Howard this month.

Our culture has become so championship, “win at all costs”, “do whatever it takes” focused, that it has been refreshing to see someone at the top of their profession live up to that classic cliché.  The US Men’s Soccer team was eliminated, but what will be remembered is how Tim Howard played the game.  Not often we get a chance to see such a thing.  Hope that memory lasts a bit longer than a just the tweets.



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Of Ties and Draws

There are many positives to soccer, and specifically youth soccer; foremost of which is it gets kids moving. Quite literally every person on the field is moving – hopefully running. Though I love baseball, it is terribly sedentary. No one “plays themself into shape” in baseball. You can do it in track, soccer, cycling, basketball and football, but certainly not in baseball.

However, my struggle with soccer, and specifically youth soccer, is the idea that it is okay to tie. Though I might concede that it is okay for young kids to play for the sake of playing – that keeping score does not matter. But eventually everyone needs to learn the lessons of life.  One of the realities of the world is that winning and loosing matters.  It always has.  It always will.

Like everyone, I have been bombarded with World Cup updates, and I had to smile at the opening day results: a 1-1 tie followed by a nil-nil match.  Priceless.  Only soccer can produce world-wide passion yet not have anyone win.  To some that is the beauty of the sport – it is okay to just not lose.  That is great, and such folks make wonderful neighbors.  However, if I am building a team that will compete in the real world of business, I want competitors.  I want winners, or at least people who hate to lose.

You can work hard, practice, be ethical, noble, righteous and good, and yet there will be times you will lose – it is the nature of competition.  However, you better be ready to win every time you compete.  And that is why I cannot embrace a sport that ends in ties – it is fundamentally contrary to the very ideal of competition.  I am a competitor and I believe in what that means – someone wins and someone loses.  You play right, you play fair, you play hard, but you play to win…at least in the real world.

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