Zen and Competition

I watched the recent track and field world championships in London and found it interesting when discussing the results with people, I often heard things like, “we didn’t win many medals” or “we won the men’s relay event, with the 3rd fastest time ever”.

I watch the England football team in the last 2 major tournaments, the world cup and the euros, they were terrible and I heard from others how “terrible we are at football” and “we are an embarrassment”. I’m currently watching England vs Slovakia and we are losing at the moment, I laughed out loud when Slovakia scored.

Frankly I think people feel that because Britain held the largest empire on the planet once upon a time, we cannot possibly fall from grace such that teams considered lesser funded and trained should out do our representative athletes. This is foolish. Don’t forget that Macedonia have zero notable athletes that I can tell you about (feel free to correct me) and they were once led my Alexander the Great. Genghis Khan dominated Asia in the 12th century – as a result 0.5% of the world population could be a direct descendant of this man. You don’t see Mongols or Macedonians expecting more, so eat some humble pie and remember sitting on your sofa and watching is not the same as coaching or participating, to warrant a sense of contribution to the end result – be it good or bad.

What I find interesting is how ready we are to share in the successes and failures of our representative athletes and teams. I mean all those people who referred to the performances and results as if they contributed should really step back and consider this for both their humility and stress levels.

I didn’t contribute one tiny bit to the England football team, or the programme behind the organisation, the tactics, the decision making, or anything else of value. I didn’t contribute one tiny bit to the UK athletics teams, or the programme behind the organisation, the tactics, the decision making, or anything else of value – not even buying a lottery ticket, which I assume goes towards funding British athletes. So why should I feel like I can share in the successes of these athletes or lament in the failures?

After the last major international football tournament, I think it was euro 2016 but frankly this shows how little it affects me now, I made the decision to not watch the England team again. I enjoy football and looking back this was unreasonable of a commitment for me. I have since decided to approach televised sports with an element of zen, which has resulted in a better experience I am watching now and I support England without the frustration I once felt when seeing a flamboyant movement get broken down by the opposition who are playing by simple fundamentals.

I relax and enjoy the contest, the good and the bad, I exist as a spectator with no real affiliation with the respective teams. England just scored, I am happy and it is a positive as I am by birth right affiliated to England, but I don’t feel I have contributed to the goal because I have done nothing to deserve that sense of jubilation. At the same time, if England go behind again in this game I won’t curse the poor performance, it will just be.

I can tell you my blood pressure is great, my stress levels are low, and I will get a good nights sleep whatever the result of this game, with the team I am affiliated to but have done nothing to contribute.