The Wor ld Cup is passion. Passion drives teams, passion drives fans. We must win, we must get through. From New Zealand to Brazil, Switzerland to Spain, what we are looking for is passion. Passion! We can forgive teams if they lose, but show passion. We forgive teams for a lack of skill, if they show passion. Passion shows us that our faith is justified; passion shows us it was worth the money for the travel or the TV package or the one warm beer you’ve made last the whole game at your local. Passion generates energy that generates more passion that makes the little teams know that in a knock-out it is maybe, just maybe. Passion makes us love you, little 3-inch footballer on my screen who I will never meet and who earns more in a week than I ever will.
Show a lack of passion, and everything changes. Show a lack of passion and we will show you a lack of compassion. Show no passion and we will not forgive your lack of skill, the money we’ve paid, the flags we’ve been made to put up, the money you earn. Little 3-inch footballer if you show no passion I will not trust you that you believe, and if you do not believe, why should any of us believe?
Passion comes from the Greek verb ‘pascho’, meaning ‘to suffer’. Passion is more than enthusiasm and wild celebrations and a bit of naughty loving… passion, real passion, involves sacrifice and pain and suffering as well. Showing me passion shows me that you care enough to put yourself out, to run harder, faster, longer; to chase and press and push for the ball; to take a risk, to change formation, to try something new. It might not work but you will have shown me passion and I will love you for that.
England showed a distinct lack of passion. The drone of the vuvuzela was more interesting than their passion, their creativity, their skill. So we pillory them and show them no compassion, the over-paid illiterate superstars.
Uh oh. Who said that?
Imagine the TV cameras being trained on our church, our faith, our life… will they see passion? Or will they see going through the motions, rigid formations, creativity shelved for the old ideas and something that looks as interesting as England vs Algeria? Would they see us masking our failures by celebrating hollow victories like England vs Slovenia? Would they see us ripped apart by the realities of real life outside the holy huddle of our training ground like England vs Germany?
Would they see us as we show the passion to suffer and struggle for our faith, for our God, to walk the extra mile carrying the soldiers tunic? Or would they see something that looks simply pedestrian, dull, lifeless, tired and about to be knocked out? As we (rightly) criticise our team for a lack of passion, it might just be worth remembering that we are out there on the pitch every minute of every day and we (surely) want to be known as passionate, not pedestrian.
And by the way, you take Crouch, use Crouch! He scores goals. Apparently, they help. I mean that, passionately.
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