In Simon Barnes’s brilliant article on emotion in Sport in The Times I am left with a serious question.
But first here’s a quick quote:
‘The Ashes, more than any other series in cricket, more than practically any other occasion in the whole of sport, is about emotion. It’s not a test of whether or not you are emotional: it’s a test of how you deal with the emotion [italics mine].
Can you use it to alchemise fear into greatness, self-doubt into command, crazy expectations into actuality? Or does the emotion turn certainty into questions, fluidity into paralysis, strength into weakness? Do the emotions lead you to find something greater in yourself? Or something less?’
Simon really gets it.
But the question I have is this: do we actually want this level of emotion in our following of sport or business or whatever else we are passionate about?
And if we do want to be like this, why? In particular why, if we struggle to “manage” our emotions?
Despite our being in the 21st century, our understanding of emotion is surprisingly ancient. As is our grasp of how to handle it.
One theory is that through the war years, and yes, I do believe it goes back that far, we couldn’t afford to let our emotions get in the way of what we did.
We developed the “stiff-upper-lip”. It served us well through sometimes daily, sometimes incredible trauma.
But in denying the immediate emotion, it never actually went away.
Sooner or later we waste energy on keeping the emotional “float” pressed below the surface of the swimming pool, if you like.
Instead could we be learning how to harness the sometimes “fusion-level” power emotion gives us?
At present, instead, we fantasize about the glory of winning the Ashes, as our wickets tumble.
So could we be more logical about being emotional?
p.s. Ok I admit it, I have succumbed to The Times online. Well only for a month. And only for £1.