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Life is Football

David Cowles

Feb 6, 2024

”Super Sunday (2024) is right around the corner! Enjoy the game, but enjoy it mindful that you are witnessing a cosmos unfold before you.”

To what extent is Real Life (RL) like American Football? 100% - RL is American Football and vice versa! Football is "basic ontology," intricately choreographed. Football represents process but it also exemplifies that process. In this case, art is not mere representation; it is a monad reflecting every other monad and reflected by every other monad. 

Football begins with an objective, a Summum Bonum, that transcends the game itself. No, it’s not good sportsmanship - it’s points! Everything that happens on a football field is motivated by a desire to "score points" (net points)—either by adding points to your team’s score or by denying points to your opponent. The score transcends the game itself. It converts 60 minutes of blood and guts into a sequence of 0’s and 1’s, which is then forever after…the game.

In life, Summum Bonum is the Good. In football, the Good manifests as points; in other contexts, it manifests as Beauty, Truth, or Justice. A game of football consists of c. 120 "plays" – that’s it! Everything else (field, clock, refs, fans, etc.) exists merely to support those plays. 

Every play begins with a plan (diagram), formal or informal, to realize the Good (net points) in a specific context. Example: It’s 4th and 14; Coach may call for a punt.

So, every play has an initial aim (‘score points’) and a plan (‘diagram’) to realize that aim. But no play ever unfolds exactly as designed. Sometimes, the initial aim cannot even be recognized in the final product. Announcer: “I’m not quite sure what they were trying to accomplish there!” 

And this is a good thing! From the moment the ball is put in play (‘snapped’), every play evolves chaotically. It could not be otherwise. Almost any play, executed exactly as diagrammed, would fail. It would not be able to adapt to all the unexpected developments that occur during play.

Every play has 22 primary actors (the players on the field), supported by a large supporting cast. Each primary actor is independent, making his own decisions. Ideally, the players will attempt to execute the play as designed, but when that design falls apart, as it will, we hope that those same players will act creatively to further the play’s overarching goal (net points). 

A good play is designed to ‘expect the unexpected’ (Big Brother). Every play is unrestrictedly recursive; it feeds on itself! As soon as the ball is snapped, things start to go sideways. A player is slow off the mark, misses a block, etc. Now all 22 primary actors, including that sleep-deprived lineman, must modify their rehearsed behavior to take account of the new reality on the ground.

And then it’s over. The ref blows the whistle. Absent a penalty flag, the play is ‘in the books’. And now the entire game must adjust to the new reality. Exactly like real life, isn’t it? In fact, it is real life! So, next time a spouse (or other disgruntled loved one) yells, “Football, football, your whole life is football!” Remember that the proper response is “Exactly!” (Danger: Divorce Ahead!)

Let’s trace. IRL, all events (‘actual entities’) begin as context-specific applications of universal values (Beauty, Truth, Justice aka the ‘Good’). Driven by those values, as we understand them and as we choose to apply them, ‘something happens’, i.e., an event (an actual entity) occurs.

While every event has the Good as its goal, no event gets there directly. Every plan undergoes modification, often massive, before achieving its ‘measure of satisfaction’ (e.g., yards gained before the whistle blows). But once that whistle has blown, the event is objectively immortal. It cannot not now be altered, ever, forever. “It is what it is; deal with it!”

And so we do! We cannot change an event once it has been ‘immortalized’ by the referee’s whistle (and a thumbs up from the review booth), but we can still modify its meaning, restrict its relevance, or manage its repercussions. 

We cannot undo what’s been done, but we can build around it. We can let it take us where we want to go. The QB (or OC) will call another play. The new play will still focus on the game’s Summum Bonum (net points), but it will also react to the outcome of the previous play. 

That’s football. RL also consists solely of actual entities (‘plays’). Each entity begins as a response, prompted by universal values, to a specific Actual World. From this initial appetition/reaction, the actual entity evolves holistically until it reaches "satisfaction," which in turn becomes its objective immortality. 

Super Sunday (2024) is right around the corner! Enjoy the game, but enjoy it mindful that you are witnessing a cosmos unfold before you.

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