Sport and Star Wars: a search for meaning

I posted this morning a quote from Star Wars having spent my night last night watching the Star Wars trilogy (sidebar here: I do not believe there are any Star Wars movies other than the original trilogy worth my watching and thus I have never watched the other movies in the franchise BUT I digress). That quote is from The Empire Strikes Back and Yoda and was:

“If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.”

I have reflected on that quote a bit this morning since posting and, indeed, have reflected on the rest of my long weekend, aside from the Star Wars festival. It has been a weekend, for me, of sport and social media with a bit of yard work and writing thrown in for good measure.

My reflections have lead me to the view that there is much to be said for the application of Yoda’s quote across more than the Star Wars universe and the life of Luke Skywalker. Well much to be said, with an amendment.

This weekend we have seen: the Wallabies remove the shackles of doubt with a barnstorming performance in Rosario against Argentina, the International loose for the fifth successive time to the United States in the Presidents, the Pittsburgh Pirates leading in the NCLS against the St Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs move to a 5-0 record after a season worst 2-14 season in 2013 (among other sporting results).

Now in each context it is impossible to say that none of these teams and their respective staffs have been free of mistakes. However, what it is possible to say, is that, in each context, the particular team in question has either thrived upon making a change or have continued to flounder because of the failure to do so.

The story of the Kansas City Chiefs this season is particularly instructive. Before the season started the team changed its head coach, its general manager and its quarterback. That aside it made limited changes to its line up. A change in attitude and a change in style of play has been made by the coach and quarterback and, with essentially everything else the same as last year, the team has thrived. Indeed, they are now playing the game at a different level.

The story of the Pittsburgh Pirates from the MLB is the similarly as instructive (an nothing short of inspiring). After 21 seasons out of the post season (the worst record in all of the sports combined in the US) and a similar span of losing seasons until last season, behind a new manager in Clint Hurdle and off the back of some great roster moves they are the story of Major League Baseball this season. Their fans have returned to their games and they are now one game around to the second phase of the MLB finals. Again: they have made some changes in management and staff but a largely the same team that 3 years ago had, almost, the worst record in the National League.

All of this leads me to a surprising point: I think Yoda is wrong. Sorry: scratch that … I think the message that Yoda has in the quote above is spot on so long as the ideology of not making mistakes is removed. To me, to play a game and, for that matter, to live life without mistake is not possible. Indeed the biggest mistake I would think one could make would be to consider oneself to be wholly without error.

That being the case, I think the quote is better phrased thusly:

“If losing you are … a different game you should play”

The Chiefs and the Pirates were losing, indeed they were losing badly, so they took steps to play the game differently by making staff changes and the results are there for all to see.

So where does that lead us? It is all well and good for me to spruik sporting examples to back a theory but is said theory equally as applicable in life? That has been a large part of my ponderance today. I know in my own life I have been crippled at time by the fear of failure and change where change presented itself. It is trite to say (but also a truism) that my life would be different now if I had have made changes earlier in my life when I was living a life riddled with mistakes.

Life is fundamentally about learning from ones mistakes. It strikes me that the biggest mistake one can make is not making changes when one is, metaphorically, losing. That failure to act though comes mostly from fear of change doesn’t it? Therein lies the conundrum of making changes.

I wish I had have made changes in my life earlier but did not out of fear. I hope I have learned from that mistake so that the next time I am, metaphorically, losing in the game of life I can recognise that I need to play a different game to succeed. The question I have is: will you?

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