Unbranded and home on the range.

Your Biggest. Game. Ever. [Part One]

Just one night before the competition…
I find no rest, no sleep, just intuition.

Tomorrow I will hear Let The Games Begin…
Everyone scores, but I have to win.

I will be much faster than the speed of light…
I’m stronger than a lion in a fight.
This song, a reminder in my heart
For my people, for my country and for us

“Let the Games Begin”
– Nikki & Christina.


It’s the biggest World Cup finale ever. There has NEVER been any series as hyped as this one, ever in the history of professional sports. This is the game that’s on the minds and lips of everyone from the presidents and prime ministers, to the halls of power and business, of governments and mega-corporations, on the streets and schoolyards, in the places of worship and sanctuary, in the dance-clubs, malls and cafes, to all the way down to the small towns and fishing villages dotting the globe like sand on the beach.

The stadium is bursting at the seams, crammed with 200,000 fans and nearly a thousand media personnel, with hundreds of high-definition digital cameras broadcasting the game worldwide, where over a billion people are glued to screens large and small, fervently praying for their favorite team. Billions more are listening on the radio, on the net, or asking others about The Game.

No series has been so heavily contested such as this one, so pregnant with your victory and indeed these are the last moments before delivery. The stakes are piled sky-high: the winners go home with the Cup and with all the prestige and glory of a triumphant army coming home after a long war, the bragging rights are unparalleled, the paychecks are going to have double-digit zeros on them, your fellow compatriots will be congratulated wherever ’round the world they go and the envy of other nations will no longer be hidden. The losing team will be scorned, mocked, and spat on for years to come by their own countrymen and even families, for bringing such unbelievable ignominy and shame to the nation, until they find themselves to be outcasts.

The teams are tied but because they have more playoff series points than your team, a tie will spell a disastrous loss for your team and for your nation. Every player is calling upon their innermost hidden reserves of strength to carry them through. Sinewy muscles bulge; foreheads are riven by overloaded arteries, adrenaline flows in torrential amounts through the veins of every player.

The opposing team has pulled their goalie off their net to add another player into the mix, to throw you off-balance and to gain numbers and strength against you. And now, with the ball in your end of the field, it would be suicidal to pull your goalie off as well, and so you fight insanely for the ball, ignoring the pain in your shins and knees, never letting it out of your eyesight, madly driven to keep it from getting past your goalkeeper. You keep getting closer and closer to it, just grazing it with your knees or knocking it back down with a perfectly synchronized head-butt while it continues to be fiercely fought over.

… and then, it’s yours …

You have the ball and your deft feet handle the ball like a music conductor handles his baton in front of the Symphony Orchestra. Your team sees you with it and you hear them screaming at you to come down the left side where they’ve engaged the opposing team and cleared a path only for you, giving you a window of just a few seconds to break free of the melee. And instinctively, without a second thought, you take the ball and barrel right through that small breach and into the wide open field, streaking across the grass with one singular, overriding objective – the empty goal you see on the other side. You don’t even hear the screams of despair of the opposing team. Four-letter words and other expletives come forth like water over the Niagara Falls. Driven by desperation, they lunge forward trying to catch even a sliver of your shadow but they know all is lost. Their morale dropping faster than a bullet fired straight downwards, their faces betray them before their bodies do. Not even Superman could reach you in time, and they know this. Even you know it.

Before, what seemed to be mere lightning flashing in the distance has now coalesced into thousands upon thousands of camera flashes going off in rapid-fire succession, straining to capture The Moment, that exact point in time when your powerful thighs deliver that final blow, slamming home that ball like a hammering in the final nail in a coffin. The sportscasters lose their composure and bellow into the microphones about the lone comet they see ripping across the field unhindered, unchallenged.

But you don’t hear them or the earth-shattering, roaring crowd. The unending barrage of dazzling sparks is denied entry into your visual cortex. You block everything out. You’re in the Zone, and you’re high on the colossal, near-illegal boost of adrenaline. You’ve expertly bent the entire world to conform to your desires, all down to this every moment where everything has given way to you and your superior mastery. No one else in history has ever commanded such a clear shot at the goal, and you know no one else ever will.

This is going to be the shot heard and seen around the world, to be recounted across many generations until it becomes a permanent legend seared into the eternal, collective memory of your nation.

The crowd boils over. The thunderous screams of your name can be heard across the city. Traffic stops. Horns blow; people exchange glances and presume your impending victory. The millions-strong crowd surrounding the stadium is now a live, pulsating, and cheering monster dancing in the streets. In front of screens around the world, in front of Times Square displays and in front of radio sets in cities and villages, the tension mounts and overflows as premature cheers of euphoria erupt. Hands are raised to the sky; tears come unbidden to millions of eyes, cascading down wet cheeks. Never before has such a massive amount of humanity come together and willed for such a pivotal triumph to come into existence …

…and then, you don’t take the shot.

It’s not like you swung at the ball and missed, it’s not like you actually belted it out and it bounced off the goalpost. It’s not like some mad maverick on the opposing team intervened and stole it away from you.


You Just. Never. Took. The Shot.

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”
– Wayne Gretzky

To be continued.


Filed under: Cradle, Laced, Leadership, Quotable Quotes, Riposte

End of the road.

“We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence.”

– Joseph Roux

[Hat tip to Afifa for providing the quote]

Filed under: Quotable Quotes, Riposte