Before the FIFA World Cup started, I knew as much about soccer as BP knows about cleaning up spills. Not much.
From my limited experience with youth soccer I knew that cleats refuse to stay tied, hanging on the goal post is a forbidden pleasure, always go to the bathroom before you leave the house and halftime orange slices are the best part of the game. These facts were the extent of my expertise.
But after watching the best of the best play on the pitch, I’m learning more. For starters, I learned the word pitch. I also learned that it’s not soccer, it’s football. It’s not zero, it’s nil. And that buzzing sound isn’t ten thousand bumblebees, it’s ten thousand vuvuzelas.
Armed with my newly acquired football acumen, I am still outraged over a goal that was disallowed when the American team played the Slovakians . . . or was it the Slovenians . . . or maybe the Serbians.
Whoever it was, I’m mad. Like the rest of my jump-on-the-World-Cup-bandwagon countrymen, I am appalled that an official can just wipe away a perfectly good goal. With one blow of his whistle, he can just declare, That goal doesn’t count. (I’d like to introduce that guy to the blunt end of a vuvuzela.)
The more I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to conclude that it’s one thing to score a goal that doesn’t count, it’s another thing to set a goal that doesn’t count. One is disappointing but the other is derelict.
Unfortunately, we are all too proficient at setting goals that don’t really matter — career goals, financial goals, popularity goals, diet goals and any other goal that results in making us more happy. We shoot for things that are nice, but hardly noble. Our lives are consumed with short-term distractions instead of long-term focus.
What if we set more important goals in our life than getting back to a size 6, buying the newest iWhatever or driving a car we can’t afford?
What if we made it our aim to raise socially conscious kids? What if we put our focus on fighting injustice? What if we set our sights on improving political discourse? What if we were consumed with a desire to help the poor? What if equal rights became our mission?
Maybe it’s time we take a look at our priorities, because the only thing more tragic than a goal that doesn’t count is a goal that doesn’t matter.