The Pure Motive

On the advent of Messimas, and our need to believe in Leo.
Share |

Artist's rendition of Sr L. Messi

It seems to happen around this time every year that the enthusiasm for Lionel Messi reaches dangerously swoontabulous levels. Messi is everywhere at all times, of course, but a god still needs a festival. Let's call it Messimas. One of the most impressive acts of worship this Messimas is a YouTube video called "Lionel Messi never dives." It compiles instances of the variously desperate (not to say violent) measures by which Messi's opponents have tried to halt his progress on the field, as if he were mortal or something. It may be the greatest tribute a player could have: when defenders see you less as an opponent than as a demon spirit that must banished back to the realm of nightmares, you've made it, kid.

There's barging and all manner of grappling; there are studs to the hip; there are ankle taps and sneaky shirt-pulls and successive outrageously late sliding tackles. Sometimes, it almost looks choreographed. In one clip, two defenders simultaneously launch into flying tackles from 4 and 8 o'clock respectively, causing our man to no more than stumble. Another pair try to close in on him like sliding doors. He looks like a sentient pinball flinging itself around the machine while attached to another, smaller pinball. And on each occasion, as per the video's title, he refuses to take sanctuary in the solid earth and the referee's whistle. Messi is a player who will dribble into a swarm of defenders, get knocked to the ground, yet emerge upright on the other side, never having lost control of the ball; he is a storm chaser who drives straight through the tempest. More than once while watching the video, I laughed, and in doing so recalled Brian Phillips' essay on Pelé as a comedian, "the kind that revels in turning the order of things upside down so that it can give you the giddy satisfaction of seeing them turned right-side up again." Messi always seems to seek that resolution. It's as if, when he has the ball at his feet, there is to him nothing else. Time spent on the floor pleading with the officials for mercy is time spent not playing football. Here is Messi's much vaunted playground spirit in distilled form.

That is, we assume that Messi's habitual refusal to dive is born of a connection to a purity forsaken by the common-or-garden footballer—or worse, by the merely excellent footballer. It may be true. But "diving" is a loaded word. For many in and around soccer, it represents the very worst side of the game: something so common and so unspeakably dastardly that when someone doesn't do it, the band strikes up. But it's not so simple. At the white end of the spectrum, you have Messi; at the black, you have those who consistently manufacture the appearance of a foul out of nothing. In between, there is the kind of foul surreptitious enough to discommode the player on the ball without drawing attention to itself as a foul. The player fouled will often make the most of it, precisely to draw attention to the foul. Is this a way of helping the ref do his job, or just a conventionalized con-trick? Either way, it's a skill most gifted players have to learn as a means of self-protection, especially those players slight of stature.

Players such as Theo Walcott. He either hasn't learned the skill, or just doesn't avail of it often enough for his own sake. A video called "Theo Walcott never dives" is perfectly feasible. Half of it would consist of him using his sprinter's pace to evade ne'er-do-wells. The other half would consist of him being knocked off balance by stronger, cannier opponents. He might be infused with that same Messiesque playground spirit, but we don't rejoice in his innocence—we bemoan his naivety. And here is the clue to what lies beneath our reaction to Messi's indomitability. Messi rarely avails of the skill. He is possessed of such exceptional balance, agility, close control, reactions and acceleration, and of the ability to exercise all of these qualities at once, that he rarely needs to. We're rejoicing less in his innocence than in his old-fashioned imperial majesty.

But we want to believe in that innocence. Or to put another way, when we watch Messi, we get to imagine what it would look like if no one was watching at all. The only true purity in sport was when people only played because playing was fun. Then, people noticed that watching it was fun, and this in turn was noticed. Sport became conscious of the spectator's gaze, and altered as a consequence. Diving of whatever shade happens because the moral authority that governs the game was in large part devolved to the referee: a policeman to appeal to or fool or accuse of venality. That devolution occurred because the participants couldn't be trusted with that authority. The participants couldn't be trusted because the games had become too important. The games had become too important because people started watching, puncturing the membrane between the sport's pure spirit and letting the latter mingle with the air without in all its freshness and foulness.

We thus watch football accompanied by a quiet drone of guilt. But even when the volume spikes, we rarely feel it as guilt. We see players transformed by the attention, and deflect the blame onto them while praising ourselves for having looked at them in the first place. We watched Ronaldinho's smile slowly turn into a grimace, and reacted by saying that tubby needed to stay in at night. Messi, however, seems unmoved in any direction. Watching him is a relief from the drone. To remain in contact with the purity of sport, we don't have to gouge out our eyes or picket stadia or sabotage OB trucks, or even play the game ourselves. We can just watch Lionel Messi. Messi absolves our sins and cleanses our souls. After all, Messimas coincides with Lent.

Share |


On September 3, 1994, eight-year-old Joel Pearson laced up his sneakers and went for a mile-long run. Every day since—more than 6,500 total—the Bellingham,escort beirut

This is really quite informative blog such qualitative info I have never seen anywhere.

Thanks a lot for your guidance and sharing information. Impressive article for our nursing students. private investigation cost

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! high trust flow

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! Seattle Web Design Company Services Designer

I really appreciate the kind of topics you post here. Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. Good day! Locksmith in Miami

This is a great post; it was very edifying. I look ahead in reading more of your work.
Web Site

This blog is really precious and super valuable. I beyond doubt appreciate efforts that you have helped lots of the people. Thanks

Ones own carry on web log is as an expose’ at as much as possible tailor-made documents and even I noticed the application highly insightful. Satisfy continue authoring, one present a lot of. can ho cao cap

Good article, your all provided information is all right, keep your blogs on- Greets.
Stop Letting Money Stress Control Your life

I feel happiness to read the content that you are posting.Tim

While the admin of the web site is working, no question soon it will likely be famous, due to its feature blogs.whole life insurance

Thanks for Nice and Informative Post. This article is really contains lot more information about This Topic Citation Flow

I will definitely come back to your site to see more splendid posts like this one.
Check This Out

I love reading blogs and this is one of my most favorite blogs because I enjoyed a lot at this source thank you so much!
opener multiple url

An unbelievable blog. This blog will indisputably be definitely recommended to my friends as well. his comment is here

Thanks for such great idea guys; I hope you will post more content I’ll regular visit this site.
homeowners insurance miami

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!
Virtual CEO lifestyle Bonuses

Have big thanks! That you presented this blog for us full of great knowledge, features, important points that nobody can say wrong.Pure Forskolin

I am so happy to see this blog successful amongst people, the quality information and the way of explaining is totally perfect.
long term disability insurance rates

Hi to everyone, I am sure you all will be enjoying this post like me, because it has superb details and facts that can never be ignored!
auto insurance quotes

I actually spend my little time to read the websites but this blog is quite different from others, this has helped me a lot in my work. Thanks High Domain Authority Backlinks

Your blog has everything that is included really a completely useful facts. This post is very good quality. Thank you for presenting a very good post.
Economic club flyers

Nobody can reject the info you have given in the blogs, this is actually a great work. inbox blueprint 2.0 review

Having read such an awesome piece of writing I am very delighted, will come back soon to visit this webpage. Thanks
Miami Tours

Waow man! You know you have helped several people including me, thanks for sharing with saving our never-ending hours of browsing…
online payday loans

I am all time fond of reading the blog, when I reached to this blog I wondered to read such informative article, it inspired me a lot thanks.
Curry opinion

An unbelievable blog. This blog will indisputably be definitely recommended to my friends as well.Protect Your Cat and Home from Fleas

Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. I’m happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post. make club flyers

agility, close control, reactions and acceleration, and of the ability to exercise all of these qualities at once, that he rarely needs to. We're rejoicing less in his innocence than in his old-fashioned imperial majesty.
clash of clans hack cydia

I see the greatest contents on your blog and I absolutely love reading them.
happy wheels unblocked
cubefield unblocked
temple run game
scary maze game 1

Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up. taxi in ajmer

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one... California DUI Attorney

long-term observations, found that there are about 40 groups of beavers and seven dams in the Tay catchment. The beavers were found in the Tayside rivers and lochs stretching from Kinloch Rannoch, Kenmore and beyond Crieff in the west, to Forfar, Perth and Bridge of Earn in the East.upload images to instagram from pc

Wow, What a Excellent post. I really found this to much informatics. It is what i was searching for.I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info.Thanks scary videos

This delightful little platformer draws its inspiration from some of my favorite old games. garcinia cambogia reviews

Mmm.. good to be here in your article or post, whatever, I think I should also work hard for my own website like I see some good and updated working in your site Risperdal Lawsuit Attorney

I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work... leaflet printing services

However, for Year 2 students who organize this event it is an awesome opportunity to check out the “fresh meat” before the rest of the SSE Riga dwellers.pamphlet printer

students want to cognitive the keys of productive literary essays composing. Your first-class knowledge about this good. Attorney Michael Kraut

SEO services a website will rank higher on search engine pages; this in turn will also lead to greater Web traffic. IVC Filter fracture lawyer

will rank higher on search engine pages; this in turn will also lead to greater Web . movers and packers pune

I'm impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a blog that's both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you hit the nail on the head
boom beach hack download

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your points and have come to the conclusion that you are right about many of them. You are great...Low Cost Tabletents Printing

Wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by Google, learned a lot, now I’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rs. keep us updated.affordable flyer printing

This is very interesting content! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your points and have come to the conclusion that you are right about many of them. You are flyer template psd

While the admin of the web site is working, no question soon it will likely be famous, due to its feature blogs.

Thanks for sharing this quality information with us. I really enjoyed reading. Will surely going to share this URL with my friends.

blog post

I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement the concept. Thank you for the post.

blog post

I truly enjoy reading through on this internet site , it contains superb posts

private blog network post