Hey there, Friend!
Hope your week is moving along well!
I’m still out here training to prepare for the 2020 season, putting in the work I know I need to so that when my opportunity comes, I’m ready!
It’s still up in the air which team I’ll be playing on. So goes the uncertainty of free agency and most of the world of professional soccer.
This past week I had the opportunity to interview one of the most well known names and faces in US soccer history and current FOX commentator Alexi Lalas.
We were able to have a great conversation on the #AskASoccerPro Show ep 058 about reinventing yourself in American soccer, something that’s for obvious reasons been on my mind a lot lately.
Unfortunately, you can’t play professionally forever.
Something I’ve always known to be true from the start of my career 11 years ago and a large reason why I’ve spent as much time as I have in all my endeavors when not on the soccer field.
I feel this has been positive, but definitely more negative for me at different times in my career.
People have their thoughts and ideas for what focusing on your career “should look like.”
And because of that, at some times (many times) my pursuits to prepare myself for my post career, in my free time during my career, hasn’t been seen or understood as a positive… yet.
How Do You Benefit From Your Ignorance of the Process?
I’ve been thinking about it (and greatly experiencing it throughout my entire career) and I’ve come to understand that most people are able to navigate and operate in the world because they’re ignorant (or willfully ignorant) to the processes and ways in which things actually work and why.
Mainly because, up to this point, for them, it’s always been in their benefit to do so.
What do I mean?
The best way I can describe this ignorance of the process and how many consciously or unconsciously benefit from it, is to compare it to our current state of affairs when it comes to eating meat.
And I don’t mean going hunting for your food or raising your own livestock.
I mean the way in which most people, here in America (myself included) have access to, purchase and consume their meat.
Factory farming, where thousands of animals are crowded into inhumane spaces and living awful lives before they are ‘processed’ and put on store shelves and then dinner plates. Now the majority of people I know are meat-eaters and I’m guessing as of now quite a bit of society is composed of meat-eaters.
So to understand the conceptual point I’m making let’s say that out of a thousand people, only one hundred really know and fully understand the process of getting meat from where it was, a whole animal, to that steak on your dinner plate.
Of those hundred people, I think maybe 50 of them continue eating meat, really enjoying that steak, given that they know and have seen the process it took to make it.
The other 50 people are going to say, “you know what? No thanks, I’m good.”
Choosing to participate in a different lifestyle. In this thought experiment we have one hundred people out of a thousand who are fully aware of the process to get that steak from the cow, and the other 900 people are oblivious.
They can happily enjoy chowing down on their steak, really take delight in their meal on a regular basis. Now, what I’m fairly confident of, is if those 900 people actually took the time to learn and understand the process of obtaining that steak, a good 50% of them would likely change their eating habits afterward.
And I would say close to 90% of them would opt out of eating meat if it meant that the only way they could continue to do so would be if they had to kill the animal themselves.
They wouldn’t quit eating meat because they don’t like it, or it doesn’t taste good.
Rather, they wouldn’t continue to eat it because now they have a true representation of what it is, and what they are doing and participating in by eating it.
Our once meat-eaters will understand what they are doing and can no longer navigate in ignorance.
Why am I bringing up this analogy of meat and all the processes you have to participate in, knowingly or unknowingly, to eat it?
Well, honestly, I think this analogy can be a pretty accurate reflection of racism and the systemic nature of this problem.
People who aren’t impacted by racism, and who don’t experience it in their daily lives are able to brush over instances of it and say, ‘Oh, so and so is a good guy. He’s always been nice to me.’
Now, I understand the difficulty people have who haven’t experienced racism for themselves to understand it, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are still buying into and benefitting from a system with racism integrated into it.
You have to first make the choice to learn and understand how systemic racism is, works and operates to your benefit or detriment.
Many people have the privilege of getting to make that choice (choosing to learn) for themselves.
Many others, don’t have a choice.
If you are an individual who chooses to listen and learn, then you have a second choice to make. (Just as the meat eaters do.)
Continue to benefit from the system, knowing what is behind it.
Or, acknowledge it, and actively, consistently do something to improve the system and change it to be more equitable. If someone is no longer ignorant to the processes functioning against people of color, and they still choose to exercise their privilege and benefit from a systemically racist process, we could compare this to eating meat, even though you know the awful process it took to bring the steak to your plate, but not being willing to kill the animal yourself.
We can “say” that racism is a problem all day long, donate our $5 to a charitable organization, have our month of February to check it off our list and then wash our hands of it, doing nothing more than acknowledge the issue.
We can sit and enjoy the benefits of our ignorance while feeling somewhat absolved.
But here is the thing, there is no absolution and the process is still being participated in and benefited from – at the expense of people of color.
If you’re a person of color, if you’re somehow disenfranchised, and you believe that the obstacles in place are impossible for you to overcome on your own, then you would have to ask those who created the system to change it, right?
I’m here to argue that you can’t change the minds or better yet, it’s a waste of your energy to try to change the minds of those who have constructed or benefit from the system against you, only they can do that for themselves.
What you can do is stop behaving in a manner that defers to the system.
You have to begin behaving in a way that showcases the ways in which the system is wrong, corrupt, and false. Only then are others able to see what discrimination looks like, but only in the long run.
Only once those holding up discriminatory systems experience discrimination for themselves or choose to educate themselves on the system, can they then decide for themselves if they want to continue to participate in the systems supporting it.
Just as most people don’t have it in them to raise and kill their own meat, they also don’t have it in them to directly participate in racism.
Most are content to benefit from processes they are willfully ignorant of, but once exposed to the truth and forced to confront it, in most cases behavior will change.
Force others to confront the process, don’t bow to it.
To listen to last week’s show with Alexi Lalas, make sure you check out episode 58 of the #AskASoccerPro Show!
00:00 – 06:57: Intro
07:39 – 10:41: Alexi Lalas Joins the Live!
10:42 – 13:19: Reinventing Yourself
13:24 – 16:21: Personality and Growing the Sport
16:24 – 18:25: Making Mistakes
18:27 – 20:45: Crafting a Persona
20:49 – 24:22: Cutting Through the BS
24:23 – 28:07: You’re Never Going to Please Everyone
28:16 – 33:36: Seizing Unfair Opportunities
33:49 – 35:04 The Responsibility to Pay it Forward
35:05 – 44:14: The American Player
This Week On The #AskASoccerPro Show
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone on Thursday when we go live at 6 pm PST/ 9 pm EST with the #AskASoccerPro Show over on Instagram.
I’ll be taking your questions and interviewing Sean Johnson, goalkeeper for NYCFC !
Please join in!
Please feel free to shoot me an email if you have any thoughts or feedback
Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday!
Until next week,
Quincy Mental Strength Coach
MSL – Mental Strength League