More than the ball

As our situation drags on, we have been advised to keep our eyes on the ball, but that is not the whole story, in football or in real life.

In football, no player can afford to forget there are 21 other guys on the pitch keeping their eyes on the ball and he has to watch them too, so that he can respond to any move, by his own team or his opponents. Real life isn’t too different.

Yes, the ball is the centre of attention for all of us, but what plans have our team got (however you might define your team: your party, or all of us who want fair elections, &c) and what can you learn about your opponents’ plans and strategy?

Your opponents have a choice of strategies;

  1. a glory-bound co-ordinated movement or even a single brilliant long dribble straight to the goal – the real life analogy would be a straightforward honest election campaign with big popular support
  2. a sly move up one wing with a lot of feinting and deception to obscure who plans to make the crucial move towards a goal. The real life analogy to that might be a rigged election. Another, closer, football analogy for that would be bribing or threatening the referee, but that is less common.
  3. an overwhelming charge, disregarding who gets mauled, or who gets a red card for it. The real life analogy is naked electoral violence. Usually, in football as in real life, nobody wants to be quite that open about their intentions; they make the violence a bit more subtle and get away with no worse than a yellow card. They may even be clever enough to make an opponent take the blame and the red card.
  4. A direct attack on the goal, backed up by the knowledge that one or more of your team have been paid to fumble at the right moment and let them score. I don’t need to elaborate much on that, except to say the man who takes a bribe may have many different motives; one is simple greed, another might have been approached when he had big personal problems – say, his mother has just died, his wife is having a difficult time in hospital trying to deliver their first child, and he has other big bills he must pay this week or lose his house. Another player might have been approached so subtly that he doesn’t know he has been bought.

In our real life situation, any of these are possible. A cunning, ruthless and experienced operator may use a combination of several or all of them. He may switch from one to the other according to how he reads the developing campaign.

We need to be ready for all of these possibilities.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

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