Life Isn’t Fair: Lessons from the World Cup


By Carlos Portocarrero

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Over the weekend, there were two plays during World Cup matches that were blatantly missed by the referees. In the Germany-England game, the Brits put the ball in the goal but the refs didn’t think it crossed the line. Announcer Tommy Smyth called it one of the worst calls he’s ever seen in his career.

In the Mexico-Argentina game, Argentina scored a goal that shouldn’t have counted, as the player was offsides. The refs allowed the goal despite the Mexicans irate protesting. Both Germany and Argentina wound up winning and advancing to the next round.

I was listening to the Germany-England game on the radio and a helpless feeling came over me that I’m sure the Mexicans felt when the refs blew the call during their game: it’s not fair or right and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Play continued and the clock kept ticking—there was no break in play for the Brits to complain or make their case to the ref. In soccer, play goes on and the clock waits for no one. They couldn’t stand there and argue because Germany would push ahead and score another goal.

We would all be wise to remember this analogy when something unfair happens to us—life isn’t fair. We can spend our time jumping up and down complaining about it or we can get right back in the game and prepare for the next play. Spend too much time complaining or feeling sorry for yourself, and you’re setting yourself to miss your next chance.

This is one thing I like about soccer. In baseball, football, and basketball you can stop play and complain. You can argue. You can make your case. You can wave your arms like a crazy person in the hopes that the ref will think twice about the call he missed. Sometimes it’s fun to watch and sometimes it’s a little embarrassing.

There’s a fine line between complaining and being a cool customer when something like this happens to you. On the one hand, you want to make sure everyone knows you’ve been wronged. I’ve watched baseball games where players player didn’t complain at all, so everyone thinks the call was the right one even though it clearly wasn’t.

Well, I don’t see Soriano complaining too much, so maybe he was out.

And on the other hand, when a player is wronged like that and he just plays it off like it’s nothing—well that just looks cool and it makes me want to be that player.

Curious to hear what people out there think—which of the two are you and which one would you like to be? The complainer or the cool customer?

Image by NathanF


One Response to “Life Isn’t Fair: Lessons from the World Cup”

  • scott lawrence Says:

    although i am not much of a soccer fan (baseball is my game), i can see your point and now that you have mentioned it, i kinda have more respect for the soccer players…i read all about the FIFA World Cup in the newspaper every day, and realised there was a controversy regarding the blown calls and whether or not “instant replay” would ever be considered or adopted by the powers that be. i am not a confrontational person, and i really respect those players that act mature on the field; the ones that “grin and bear it”. you are so right when you say that the soccer players have no time to whine about bad calls cuz the clock is ticking. that is probably one of the things that makes the game more exciting – the time factor. listen, umpires and refs are human, ergo, they are gonna make mistakes here and there and in these big games where a country’s reputation is at stake it makes it even more embarrassing when they miss a call. but what it all comes down to is this: it is just a game! i respect the person that gives in to the authorities even when they have made a huge blunder. that to me is what a “professional” is supposed to do. that is probably one of the reasons that i have lost interest in the NFL and have lost respect for all the primadonnas that play the game these days….they get paid millions and we are expected to continue watching and ENJOYING that crap??? so, in answer to your question, i would hope i am the type who, even when i might not agree with a ruling against me, i consider the “big picture” and carry on as normal.
    same sh*t, different day – no big deal. now get some sleep, brother!

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