Sunday, December 06, 2009

Zen and the Art of A-League Maintenance

I have had Robert Pirsig's book on my 'to do list' for some time. Recently, I got time to read it. I had a lot of expectations. To be honest I thought it would be uplifting like Herman Hesse's 'Siddhartha' or Thich Nhat Hanh's 'Fragrant Palm Leaves' (book I recommend to any avid reader feeling the need for new ways of living). But 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' is a very different type of book, it is darker and more demanding of the reader.

In a complex book with many themes, Pirsig offers a very insightful analytical model. He poses that analysts are either classical or romantic. The romantic takes things as they are without attempt to understand why, and appreciates or otherwise the impact of the world as it is. The classical analyst is always seeking to understand how, why, what where things work. The classic attempts to influence their world. Pirsig offers that people can travel from being a romantic to a classic. Initially seeing something and appreciating it for what it is. Then over time seeking to understand why and how this something does what it does.

In season one my son, via my wife, bought me two tickets to the A-League. I had no preconceived ideas about the competition. I knew none of the players or the coaches nor their names, and I had never been to Lang Park. In those early days the crowds were around 15,000 to 20,000, and the atmosphere caught me from the first moments.

The Roar would play a fantastic attacking game, with lots of running and shots. Then lose one nil to a 'grind them out' team throwing everyone behind the ball until the last 10 minutes. There was frustration but there was help for the future. The team got better as the season wore on.

I started reading every book on soccer/football I could (contrary to popular myth many English publications refer to soccer). I turned quickly to football blogs. Particularly insightful were regular analyses of games and tactics by Mike Slater and Tony Tannous, as well as few other that have fallen off. I began by posting comments on blogs. I allowed myself to be wildly free and say what I thought without moderation of my biases. It was liberating.

The game atmosphere allowed me to go with the flow and, for a point in time, not worry about the week's tests and events. It was freeing. I could say the first thing that came into my head, as loud as I wanted. Even, in those early years of the A-League, defeat and frustration with poor referring had its consolations.

I started my own blog and got to meet amazing, clever and innovation people (like Archives bookshop owner Hamish). A vibrant community blogging community grew, with great insights and great writing from fans across the A-League (like half time hero cartoonist Wayne supporting CCM and Cecilia).

My analysis turned from Pirsig's romantic style to classical as I learnt about the subtleties of the gamed and remembered my playing days and days of 'Match of the day'. I my view on the game became less forgiving and expectations for results grew.


Hamish said...

Great rave John. It sort of begs for a "Part 2" though.

Thanks for the flattering publicity too. :)

john said...

Thanks Hamish
Yes I was thinking part 2