In viewing soccer, I’ve always gotten the sense that the game we’re watching represents some bigger metaphor for the life we lead. Two clubs, batting inch for inch up the pitch, each tiny battle won or lost, a portion of a bigger picture. It’s why when a goal occurs it is such a cause for celebration; the goal is the reward for the long battle held.
Author Jag Shoker’s “Playing the Beautiful Game” is a series of quotations, or “verses” as Shoker calls them that are to assist us in maneuvering through our life using football as the metaphor. As Shoker describes in the introduction, “Life, sport and business are all at times, games. Your success within the game depends so much upon the clarity, strength and purpose with which you play the game.”
In “Playing,” the pitch represents the stage upon which you grow, the game is whatever you imagine it to be (your work, life, an actual game) and the beautiful game represents your best performance. The verses in the book consist of almost haiku like passages that are supposed to inspire you to succeed. Here’s an example: “When others criticize your game, ask yourself — is there any truth in what has been said? If no, have the courage to play your game. If so, have the courage to change your game.”
This is the entirety of the book. This being said, is Playing the Beautiful Game worth your money? The best possible answer to this is that if you are someone who buys the “Chicken Soup” books and you love soccer, then it would seem that you would love this, as it takes pretty standard pieces of advice and semi shoves those pieces of advice into a soccer setting. A lot of this would probably be great for businessmen and -women, as the book is chock full of metaphors about how to keep your head up in a corporate environment.
All in all, Playing the Beautiful Game is a stocking stuffer. It’s 123 pages of verses that cover a very niche area (that being people who love soccer and also need advice). If you believe it, it works. If you don’t no one will ever convince you otherwise.