The musings of Mr Monkeysized


Gordon Strachan, David Willetts and True Grit by monkeysized
September 12, 2010, 21:54
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

I sometimes lie on my hammock, blow smoke rings into the air, sip on a single malt whisky, and wonder how it all turned out just so right. Well, not bad anyway. And my thoughts inevitably turn to Gordon Strachan, ginger haired Scottish footballing genius.

Saturday saw me in West London, at the home of QPR – watching Middlesbrough provide the merest slip of a promise of an afternoon well spent, before offering up their behinds for a good and proper spanking. Three-nil it was. There was more spirit shown in a fight between two Middlesbrough supporters who disagreed on matters of club trajectory and loyalty to a failing cause than there was on the pitch, where two players managed to step on the ball and fall over.

And I thought to myself, I hope I have children so that I can introduce them to this.

Here, read this:

“…softer skills like application became more important realtive to IQ in predicting your educational attainment. These softer skills are good qualities. They include empathy and emotional intelligence but it is misleading to call them all soft. Grit is a better name for the key attribute. […] It means you study and stick at things even if you do not get good results straightaway. It is about valuing the future and deferring gratification, as we saw in chapter 7: ‘Under-achievement among American youth is often blamed on inadequate teachers, boring textbooks and large classes. We suggest another reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential: their failure to exercise self-discipline’.”

This passage is from a fantastically erudite book by the man who now sits, I believe, as minister for science, David Willetts.

It is full of monkeysized themes, and I hope to tell you more about this in the future. But for now, nursing a start to the season of four losses, one draw and an appallingly humdrum win, I will focus on the subject of grit.

In the past, if you wanted to find the leaders and achievers of the future, the Napoleans and the Stalins, you would look at a child’s upbringing. Are they troubled? Is their father a shit? Is this filling them with a burning desire to achieve, to prove everybody wrong?

The modern world has an answer to this – it is called the shit football club.

If a child is ready to stand up in the playground, especially if far from the catchment area of a particular club, and say ‘Yes, I know they’re shit, but I follow them nevertheless’, that child is full of grit. They know disappointment; they know despair; they know that familiar feeling that more is being asked of them than is being given in return. They know that victories have to be fought for, and that you should never take things for granted. Life is a fight. If a victory comes along, enjoy it while never forgetting how much effort it took and how fleeting it might be.

Do you get this from following Barcelona or Manchester United? No. Do you get this from following Middlesbrough, Polonia Warszawa or Berwick Rangers? Yes.

And it’s from the ranks of the supporters of those clubs that the next generation of great men and women will be, complete with slightly haunted expression, burning desire to see a better world in their lifetime, and vague smell of meat pie.

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