Yesterday, like millions of viewers around the world, I sat in front of my television riveted to the World Cup final match between the United States and Japan. Yes, I've posted about soccer a couple times over the last year, but I couldn't let the Women's World Cup pass, especially after the US's tenacious fight to the final, without sharing a couple things about making magic I learned from watching these talented women battle for 120 minutes of play and end in penalty kicks.
o When you’re down, fight harder. The US came out in the last moments of several games, and in the final, Japan fought back against every American scoring advantage, tying the US through last-minute goals in regulation and over-time.
o You can’t make a shot you don’t take.
o Put in the work to make the most of luck when it happens.
o Smile about it, even when it hurts. When high-scoring Abby Wambach missed a goal near the end of the game, I was surprised to see her stand up smiling. In that situation, I would have hung my head. Wambach went on to score a crucial goal for the US. Also high on the list of smiles was Japan’s coach smiling at the end of the huddle before the PKs.
o Age doesn’t matter. Sometimes being the inexperienced kid doesn’t mean a damn; you just have to run harder. Alex Morgan, the 22-year-old newbie, scored the first US goal of the final and assisted on the second. Saki Kumagai, a 20 year old, got the winning goal for Japan. Soccer, like many professional sports, is typically a game for the young; players often are in their mid-twenties, but Christie Rampone, the US team captain, is 36, has two kids, and was playing with Lyme disease, and she still played every minute of the final and had a huge save for the US. So often I've heard that age matters in making magic. I'm convinced it doesn't; it's the passion one brings that matters.
o Size doesn’t matter. Japan was the underdog and the smallest physical team on the pitch. Players like Abby Wambach at 5'11" towered above Golden Ball winner and Player of the Tournament winner Homare Sawa, who's 5'4". Often when I attempt to create, I compare myself to others, and often become discouraged because I don't have the big personality others do, but size doesn't matter. Persistence and skill do.
o Sometimes entertainment does mean something. Japan’s message to the world displayed on a banner stirred viewers, a reference to the crisis in Japan that started four months ago. From accounts I heard, Japan pulled around their soccer team, and the players, coaches, and fans made repeated statements that they wanted to bring a reason to celebrate to their country. Japan's coach showed photographs of the devastation before a game, a way to show the team who they played for. The victory didn't rebuild homes or restore life or make edible foods, but it did give people a reason to smile and a reason to hope. So often it's easy for me to feel that I should devote my time to actively helping instead of writing for entertainment. Japan's national team showed that even something viewed as entertainment for the masses can have meaning.
From what seemingly unrelated magic have you gained inspiration?