Is football enjoyable? As a club owner it is surprisingly difficult to answer | Grimsby

Tmonths in the ownership of a football club and the question that comes up most often is, “Do you like it?” Normally, this would be a direct question to answer, but it seemed surprisingly difficult until I had time to think it through.

Football belongs to both our communities, maintains a mirror to our society and gives us a unique window into human behavior and psychology. On occasion it offers a powerful metaphor for things in life that are worth the effort and the opportunity to be a part of what Jon Yates, in his book Fractured, calls the “common life”: moments of common experience which are not dependent on class, education. , race or any other variable but become the moments that allow us to see beyond the boundaries and prejudices that our policy is often enforced. Football has the ability to remind us of our collective power and sense of community.

But when asked if I like the experience of owning football, the short answer is “no,” in part because of the lack of rationality in the game. It’s not fun every day, but it shouldn’t be. In the same way that some people have an obsession with “happiness” or “success” as a goal in life, consistent pleasure is inaccessible and undesirable as a permanent state. As Victor Frankl stated in his seminal paper, Man’s Search For Meaning: “Don’t look at success – the more you aim and aim, the more you will miss. For success, like happiness, you can’t they must be persecuted. “

The last 10 months have been a great opportunity to learn, to connect, to be challenged and to be a part of the history of a community that is bigger than ours. Moments of joy are rare but intense. Jordan Maguire Drew’s last-minute equalizer against Halifax, the absolute catch of a John McAtee volley against Altrincham, Gavan Holohan’s perfect first goal for the club versus Chesterfield.

The intensity and frequency of these emotions often erode our rationality and undermine our long-term thinking, the parts of our brain that are underdeveloped compared to our emotional and intuitive brains. In this way, the game offers an important way to think about prejudices, our search for certainty and the place for our emotions in the decision.

We know a lot more about decision making than the recent advances in evolutionary biology and modern psychology. I really like the analogy of Jonathan Haidt, who stated that our rational mind is like a rider on the back of an elephant, where the elephant represents our emotions and intuitions and the rider represents our rational thinking. . When they lose 1-0 at home, that elephant on the run insists on dismissing the manager, while the rider tries to hold on and whispers in the elephant’s ear that we worked hard, played well and are still there next week .

Jason Stockwood (front) watching Grimsby play for Salford before becoming then club president. Photo: ProSports / Shutterstock

At Grimsby we had the best start to the season since 1982 and then, at the end of October, we went 10 games with a single win in the National League. “Attribution bias” is falsely credit of ability retrospectively to actions. Assume that when you win you are skilled and capable, but as soon as you start losing, you immediately become a failure and you are not without talent. Assigning talent and then reversing it in a short amount of time clearly doesn’t make sense, particularly for people who have years of experience in the game. When we looked at the differences in performance between the blocks there was not much difference in the pace of work and the chances of the goal. We lost most of the games to a single goal and didn’t score.

Whether we choose to admit it or not, luck and chance play a more significant role in our lives and we often underestimate their impact. However, in the space of 90 minutes of play, it should be clear to anyone who has ever seen a game that there are many possible worlds that play differently if a player is not injured, if a decision goes in a different direction or if a goal. it goes rather than a ball hitting the post. It is a constant reminder of the fragility of reality that small changes in variables can influence massive differences in outcome.

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Alongside the recognition of the multiplicity of life we ​​need more empathy and perspective. I usually sit high in our larger stand and watch the game from a point of view where you can see all the mathematical possibilities of the game – all the spaces and options available at any given time for all players. The next week I was on the opposite side of our pitch, five rows behind, almost pitch level, experiencing the near game as a manager watching him. The difference was amazing. Closer to the action, there was a much more unique view of the game and I feel a lot more empathy for the players and staff because your perspective dictates the amount of actual space you can see instead of possible options. We almost never think about what the manager, the player or – dare I say it – the referee actually sees rather than all the options we can see on a stadium or on TV. Perspective is everything and we almost never consider it.

In football and in life, when emotions are high, it’s hard to detach ourselves from our passion and make rational commitments. It’s even harder to have empathy for those who are truly in the game observed from above in the stands. Ten months and it seems clear that if we want to build something that will last then the property requires a more rational element to match the emotion that the game generates. I also think we need to think about our individual perspective and have more empathy for those around us. If we can do that, maybe we can all enjoy the game a little more.

Jason Stockwood is the president of Grimsby Town

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