Hey guys, in my philosophy class we have been learning about the idea of wabi sabi: finding perfection in imperfection. We were assigned to write about what is wabi sabi in our own lives and I chose to write about defensive soccer, and Chelsea winning the champions league, I thought you all may enjoy this:
The main goal of soccer is to outscore your opponent. There are many ways of doing this, some prettier than others, many teams such as Barcelona believe that dominating possession and putting as much pressure on the other team’s goal as possible is the key to success. Other teams such as Stoke City believe the opposite, to be more reactive and to allow the opponent to overcommit. However they receive an immense amount of criticism because of the defensive style in which they play. In 2004, one of the best managers in the sport, Jose Mourinho, said this about defensive soccer: “As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal. I would have been frustrated if I had been a supporter who paid £50 to watch this game because Spurs came to defend. There was only one team looking to win, they only came not to concede - it's not fair for the football we played.” He holds a rather popular viewpoint about that type of soccer. Last year my favorite team Chelsea, won the Champions League using the ultra defensive style of soccer which receives so much criticism around the world. But, despite the criticism, they won, and there was a hidden beauty to the way they played.
As I watched them play I began to realize that there was something about the grit and determination that was attractive. As the announcers on the TV spewed their populist opinions about Chelsea being the harbingers of the apocalypse to the “beautiful game” I became enamoured with the way they were playing. Chelsea would go on to win the championship by penalties, and in the following days I found myself defending the style in which they won it to my friends. Not only was I defending the style in which they won it, I was ultimately defending the art of defensive soccer.
Watching Chelsea win the Champions League was one my first true experience with Wabi Sabi. Although I had never heard of the philosophy before, I felt that I understood the idea of finding perfection in imperfection. While there was nothing attractive about the way Chelsea played to the average fan, I believe that the way the players threw themselves into the path of the ball to block a shot was, in a way, the definition of wabi sabi. Defensive players play a thankless position, one in which a key tackle will get almost no acknowledgement compared to a goal. Yet without the defensive players, the team would surely lose.
I play goalie for my travel and school soccer teams. Much like a defensive tackle, a blocked shot may not receive the same amount of praise that a goal would. However I feel the same amount of pleasure after making a save as a striker would after a goal. Much like how I felt the true meaning of wabi sabi as I watched Chelsea win the Champions League, I feel wabi sabi while I play goalie.
While defensive soccer is widely criticized for its brutishness, there is a beautiful aspect to it. The grit, determination, physical and mental strength required to successfully play this type of defensive soccer is remarkable, and is in itself the definition of wabi sabi. Wabi sabi means finding perfection in imperfection, and while a defensive team such as Chelsea, or a goalie, may never reach the same level of appreciation that a star striker or Barcelona possess, they remain as stark reminders that beauty can be found in even the most unassuming of places.
What do you guys think?