World Cup captains give up on show of support for LGBTQ+ rights

I’m a fan of Ted Lasso. One of my favorite moments in the series happens in the locker room, shortly after Sam Obisanya tapes over the sponsor’s name on his kit—a protest against the pollution they’ve caused in Nigeria. After explaining his actions to the rest of the team and saying he doesn’t expect anyone who doesn’t have ties to Nigeria to join them, Jamie Tartt asks for the tape.

“Gotta wear the same kit,” is all Jamie says, but it sets in motion the entire team taking a stand behind Sam.

Someone with no direct connection to the outrage decides to step up and support the person taking the risk of speaking out against an injustice.

Sure, it’s just a tv show. It’s aspirational more than reflective of the realities of the relationship between politics, money, and sports.

But we need aspirational stories in part to help us recognize cowardice and expect more of others.

Captains from several European teams intended to wear armbands in support of LGBTQ+ rights at the World Cup in Qatar. Until they realized there might be “sporting consequences.”

The governing bodies – England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland – said they had written to Fifa in September informing them about the OneLove armband but not received a response.

“Fifa has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the statement added.

“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband.

“However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked, or even forced to leave the field of play.”

World Cup 2022: England, Wales & other European nations will not wear OneLove armbands

Faced with the possibility that they might face a suspension of their ability to play in the World Cup, everyone agreed to throw in the towel on what was a mainly symbolic and insufficient gesture, but at least it was an attempt.

For comparison, here’s what LGBTQ+ people living or traveling in Qatar face in a nation that criminalizes their existence:

According to [Human Rights Watch], Qatar’s security forces have arrested people in public based on their gender expression, unlawfully searched their phones and mandated that detained transgender women had to attend conversion therapy sessions as a condition of their release.

Same-sex “sexual conduct” between men is illegal in Qatar, although there is no outright ban on same-sex relationships between women, according to a U.S. State Department report from 2021. Men 16 years of age and older who engage in sexual conduct can be punished by up to seven years in prison, the State Department said. 

Weeks away from World Cup, human rights group says host Qatar continues to mistreat LGBTQ people

But this isn’t what FIFA wants you to think about, and it’s something the players aren’t going to get you to focus on, either. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has provided a flood of soundbites trying to minimize legitimate questions and concerns about the conditions of this World Cup:

“We all have difficult lives,” Infantino said, though he chose not to discuss whether all of those difficulties are equal or even, really, comparable. All any of us craves, he said, is the chance to forget those worries for a while, to have some time “when we don’t have to think about this,” but can instead “concentrate on something we love, and that thing is football.”

It is hard to think of a more fitting summary for this World Cup, for the World Cup in general, for the way FIFA sees the world. Life is hard, and complicated, and unhappy. But try not to talk about it, or ask any questions about it, or even think about it all. Better, far better, not to resist, but instead to sit back and allow it wash over you and through you, an opiate against the pain.

Welcome to the Joy-Free World Cup

People with a platform may choose how to use it. They’re under no obligation to anyone else unless they see it that way.

But people with a platform who willingly walk away from showing support, empathy, and love for others; who chuck them aside because they’ve bought in to the notion that the game comes first and being a human comes second…

It’s disappointing.

And we know what it looks like when people in their position choose to take a risk in order to do better and be better.

Twitter hasn’t died yet

I feel the need for something between a Marie Kondo purge and that scene in Vanilla Sky where Tom Cruise walks through a floor covered in reading material.

Maybe it’s from people preemptively mourning Twitter, and my asking about what I’d actually be losing if the site disappeared. Maybe it’s approaching 40. It could even be just the general sense of minor upheavals in the past few weeks.

But I need to spend time looking at what’s here, and at who it is that’s doing the looking.

More to the Twitter point, the thing that was great about it was the sense of things not having such a high threshold for shipping. If I sit down to write a post for this site, there can be the anxiety of “Does this meet the standard I set? Will this be worth reading in a few weeks, or months?”

But this is my space, and I don’t need to be precious about it. It can be messy. I can be messy.

And I need to spend a little time getting my bearings.

Maybe a little time to move the twitch away from thinking “This could be a tweet,” to “Maybe I have something to post about.”

It’s the illusion of control for me

With a new bullet journal notebook, a day fits neatly between straight lines guided by a ruler and dot grid. It has form. Order.

It doesn’t make the day itself conform to this shape, but the map is realistic enough to represent the country.

Each event logged takes up no more space than it’s allowed. The moment transfers to the page without the emotion.

This is what I planned and this is what I did. No judgement. No regrets.

When it feels like all I can control is my reaction to events, putting a name to every reaction and giving it a place to live outside myself helps me find balance.

I can’t just doomscroll. I have to pause and write down that I’m doomscrolling.

If I’m going to have any chance at getting back to navigating my own path, I need to find my bearings first.

Back on my bull(et)shit

Yes, I know that my penmanship hasn’t improved since middle school. Thanks for reminding me.

I bought a new paper notebook.

I’ve tried bullet journaling on the iPad, and it’s fine. But I wasn’t consistent with it.

I’ve tried going fully digital, or using 3×5 cards for a daily to-do list.

I’ve tried a lot of things, okay?

While it doesn’t always stick around forever, I tend to find a better headspace when I start a fresh notebook for keeping track of things.

I need to tell myself it’s okay not to have the best long-term answer if I at least find a good answer for now.

I wrote before about craving simple solutions. I didn’t see how simple things could be.

I need two lists:

  • The things I can do
  • The things I am doing

One is for remembering hard due dates or where my progress is at with a larger project. This one’s digital.

The other is to make sure I know where my time goes, and to remind me that I have more time than I think, but not enough time for everything. That’s the notebook.

Every part of it reminds me that there’s only so much time. A page is only so long. A notebook has only so many pages.

And every page I use can’t be taken back.

It’s always sitting there, asking the question: What’s next?

Your perceptions might be wrong

In a BBC 6 radio interview, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien explained why they left the song Lift off of the album OK Computer:

“Lift” is a funny song. We played that live with Alanis Morrissette, and it was a really interesting song because the audience, suddenly you’d see them get up and start grooving, it had this kind of infectiousness about it. It was a big, anthemic song. If that song had been on that album, it would have taken us to a different place, and we’d have probably sold a lot more records…

For perspective, OK Computer sold 7 million copies to Jagged Little Pill’s 25 million.

In that sense, the band may have been correct.

But they still made an album that sold almost seven times as many copies as their previous one and is regularly included in lists of The Best Albums of All Time.

It reminds me of a line from Thich Nhat Hanh’s How to See:

We should not trust our perceptions too much—that is something the Buddha taught. “Are you sure of your perceptions?” he asked us. I urge you to write this phrase down on a card and put it up on the wall of your room: “Are you sure of your perceptions?” There is a river of perceptions in you. You should sit down on the bank of this river and contemplate your perceptions.

Radiohead attempted to predict the reaction people would have to their song.

They couldn’t know for sure, but they had trust in their perceptions of the audience when they played the song live.

I always find points when working on something where I’m trying to judge the potential reaction of its intended audience.

Points where I tend to struggle come when I lack that trust in my perceptions—second guessing what people will think when the work is in front of them.

It might be worth remembering how Radiohead sought out the benefit of taking their work out into the world.

Uncertainty about how other people will react can’t be removed by hiding the work from other people.