Spain, Rocky and Turns

On the 11th of July the Empire State Building was exceptionally lit up in red and yellow. Why? To pay tribute to Spain’s first victory in the World Cup (the sporting event with the largest worldwide audience). In Spain, literally millions of people were out in the streets joining the biggest party the nation has ever held (Ana, my wife, and I missed the party as our car decided to break down the day before!).

Interestingly, for the first time in World Cup history a country lost its opening match in the competition but was crowned world champions at the end. This dramatic turn made Spain’s triumph even more extraordinary. We all seem to appreciate such unexpected turns, don’t we?

To use another example related to sports, let’s consider the second movie of the series Rocky (when Sylvester Stallone was still fit!), released in 1979. Rocky Balboa once again fights Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion. Creed dominates Balboa throughout the combat and by the last round is clearly winning on points. Suddenly, an unexpected turn takes place. Creed is knocked down by Rocky, who also falls down in exhaustion.  Both men lie worn out and badly injured on the ring. However, on the count of 9, Rocky is able to pull himself up and becomes the new champion.

Dr. Jerry Lewis, a specialist in sociology of sports, observes the same pattern in various sports movies and calls it the “Rocky message”.[1] A twist surprisingly occurs and the underdog unexpectedly becomes the winner.

I wonder if you agree with me, but I have the impression that each human being carries the desire to see the “Rocky message” become a reality in their lives. I don’t mean it in the sense of obtaining victory against other people. I refer to the deep craving to experience “turns” from loss to gain, from despair to hope, from sorrow to joy, from isolation to inclusion, from indifference to love. In the end, we all want our accomplishments to be greater than our mistakes and our conquests more numerous than our defeats.

I find it quite striking that Jesus’ biographers describe him as being a friend to the “losers” of his society and actually causing the “turn” in their lives. Peter, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Matthew, Zacchaeus and Jairus are some examples of a very long list. Jesus boldly argued that God was willing to give anyone the opportunity to play another game in life. Moreover, he actually seemed to say that with God any loser would become a winner. So I guess I have hope!

Hélder Favarin

[1] Jerry M. Lewis, Sociology of Sports, Wadsworth Sociology Module, p. 8.

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