yours, tiramisu

actor-observer bias + "be a goldfish"

Someone from a different soccer group came to our pickup game this morning. He was on my team and played well for much of the game. I say much of the game because about midway through, he retired to the sideline to yell at me, presumably for shooting when I should have passed. He must have been really angry, because he let me have it for three full minutes before leaving the game entirely.

I wasn't sure how to respond in my surprise. I offered up a brief apology when I first realized he was yelling at me but stayed blank afterwards. I know enough Chinese to understand the insults being hurled my way but far too little to defend myself. Why bother, anyway? It's not like I hurt someone or harbored bad intentions. I just didn't see the open teammate.

Squabbles like this do crop up at our games every so often, but because I play fairly and avoid contesting balls, I'm rarely involved. While I can understand his frustration, playing soccer requires a level of soccer-specific empathy. The vast majority of the time, your teammates miss open passes not because they're selfish, but rather because they can't see or make them. It's hard not to get miffed when things don't go your way, especially when you're a cut above the rest, but you have to remember what seems simple to you from where you're standing might not be to the person on the ball. It's not fair to judge yourself by your intentions but others by their actions. (The actor-observer bias at work!)

When I first started playing with this group of people my parents' age I remember being amazed that fights broke out at all. These are grown men acting with less emotional intelligence than many of the children I've played with. We play Sunday league pickup soccer, not Champions League, and if any of us were good we wouldn't be here. Everybody's just trying their best. Why get your feathers ruffled if someone fouls you or looks at you the wrong way? It's never made much sense to me.

I tried not to let the incident get to me, though other than keeping a straight face I'm not sure if I succeeded. I kept thinking about advice I saw somewhere to "be a goldfish" (which apparently originated from ... Ted Lasso?), i.e. to not linger on your mistakes. Questionable source or not, it's good advice. Ruminating about mistakes is a vicious cycle, because when your confidence takes a hit you only become likely to make more. There's no good in becoming a prisoner of the past.

I had my first lesson with the three fifth-grade boys yesterday, which turned out to be an exercise in patience. The boys giggled uncontrollably amongst themselves on mute, accidentally deleted some of my slides, took forever to complete the in-class activity, and left me feeling like I was teaching to nobody. One didn't do his homework, and (I suspect) another used ChatGPT for his. At least I'll learn some valuable things about teaching young kids via Zoom and being with them definitely helps me appreciate my tenth-grader more.

#english #life #soccer #wordvomit