Crazy People Doing ‘The Right Thing’: Happiness Over Success

I breathe football from the cradle, perhaps that is an innate characteristic of some Argentines. Culturally, it is very difficult to interpret the world without football metaphors (like this wonderful campaign devised by an Argentine in Spain: If they explain it to you with football, you understand it). Some of the most important native philosophers of the Río de la Plata in this hermeneutic are César Luis Menotti, Carlos Salvador Bilardo and Marcelo Alberto Bielsa, equivalent in our idiosyncrasies to what their philosophers were for the ancient Greeks. They spoke about the world of ideas, the beauty of game forms, achieving the goal, obsession, creativity and a protagonist role.

There on Mount Olympus of football are Alfredo Di Stéfano, the River Plate Machine, the legendary strikers of Independiente (Grillo, Cecconato, Cruz, Lacasia, Micheli), Kempes, Maradona and Messi. Here we mortals interpret football life through the interpretations of those three Managers, hybrids between humans and deities.

The Philosophers

We present the three characters: César Luis Menotii, coach, winner of the 1978 World Cup played in Argentina with Mario Alberto Kempes as his greatest figure. Carlos Salvador Bilardo, coach, winner of the 1986 World Cup played in Mexico with Diego Armando Maradona as the greatest figure in that World Cup and ranked among the best players in history. Marcelo Alberto Bielsa, coach, winner of the gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games held in Greece (what a coincidence!).

The Philosophy

Menottism is ‘the essence of Argentine soccer that seeks the perfection of the play before the result. What should be is more important than the success achieved in any way. It is the original and true identity of Argentine soccer. Shared individuality on a court’ in the words of Angel Cappa. It is the walk of life.

Bilardism is the obsession to win whatever the price, always to the limit of the regulation and from time to time bending it to just the point before splitting. The whole is more important than individuality. Billardism is collectivism with a minimum space for creativity according to Victor Hugo Morales. It is the destination of the journey.

Bielsism does not exist as a football philosophy. It is not a dogmatic and massive movement like the other two. Although some facts could prove otherwise, bielsism has no creed. It does not seek perfection for beauty or victory as a fortuitous result, but rather integrates a harmonious system in which process and success live in masterly symbiosis. It is the love of the journey (of the walk to the destination).

Menotti, Bilardo & Bielsa

After many years of reflection, I conclude that bielsism is the best formula for success in the broadest sense of the word. Life is a perfect and mysterious system whose inevitable result is death. We walk towards a destination. “The man who loves to walk will walk further than the one who only wants to reach the destination”. Loving the journey, the difficulties, improving, learning, embarking on new destinations, developing processes. By loving the journey, goals happen as a consequence of that love to walk.

Walking to walk is menotism. Walking to get there is bilardism. Loving the walk, the journey, that is bielsism. Seeking beauty is an immeasurable desire. Pretending success is an unstoppable movement. But living life to the fullest, every second and minute seeking to be the leading character of the present, that is only proclaimed by bielsism. It is a delicate balance between effort and result that perhaps does not get as many medals as other winning coaches such as Carlos Bianchi or Marcelo Gallardo. But I insist that ‘resultism’ or ‘successism’ is one of the worst cancers that corrode Argentine football society (and society in general).

Football should not be made an absolute value. The cult of something other than life is a neopagan conception that seeks to sacrifice everything for it, to idolize players and want to conquer only sporting success.

When bielsism transcends football, a new story will be written that is worth waiting for. If we loved the system, the process as manifested by bielsism with humility, silence, convictions, total honesty, absolute dedication and exaggerated love…

How beautiful football would be! How beautiful my country would be! How amazing the world would be!



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