England must learn to fail better
Media comment: Samuel Beckett’s instruction could suit the national mood during the sporting summer
If there is such a thing as a national mood," writes Kevin Mitchell in the Guardian, "it's safe to say the current one in this country is swinging between hope and despair, stopping off at blind panic and cynical indifference along the way."
But sport can be a great patriotic palliative for the nation's woes, and Mitchell argues that "these islands are embarking on a summer of sport that might end up with England winning the Ashes, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, Rory McIlroy winning the Open, and England's football team laying down a marker this Saturday against Kazakhstan for a World Cup campaign that does not end in laughable ignominy in South Africa next year."
Of course, this could all be "preposterous" and the worst form of naive, blind optimism. But what British sport could instead focus on is, in the words of Samuel Beckett, learning to "fail better".
"While the well-creased genius probably did not intend that we should also fail often," notes Mitchell, "it is a philosophy that has much to commend it if you are a scowling young Scot getting beaten up by a muscled Chilean with a killer forehand on the red clay of Roland Garros. Murray's tennis utterly fell to pieces as Fernando González nilled him in the third set on Tuesday - but he came back. Not to win, but to appease the spirit of Beckett, to fail as well as he could."
Similarly, Theo Walcott in football, golfer Rory McIlroy and the exciting Essex and England batsman Ravi Bopara could all lift the nation's spirits with their performances in the next few months. "What they share is innocent, unspoilt, chilling belief in themselves. Beckettians, all of them," concludes Mitchell. ·
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