“And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” – Chuck Noland (played by Tom Hanks), Castaway
I caught the last few minutes of the Uruguay versus Ghana soccer match yesterday. It was quite a show. Toward the end of extra time, the end of stoppage time in extra time, Ghana played the ball into “the area” and had a couple of shots on goal. The goalie punched at the first, a Uruguayan forward, Luis Suarez, back in a last-ditch defense, kicked the second off the line at the last moment. The third came in the form of a header. Again it was Suarez, this time knocking the ball away with his hand. This, of course, resulted in an immediate red card and a penalty kick.
Now, ordinarily this is a bad deal. Suarez took away a guaranteed goal in exchange for a PK (an all but certain goal) and losing a player (a significant disadvantage the rest of the way). This time though, it was a no-brainer. If the goal goes in, it is game-over and Uruguay goes home. The player disadvantage doesn’t mean much since extra time is over and we’re headed towards a shootout. The 10% chance of stopping a PK, followed by a 50% chance of winning a shootout (5% aggregate), looks better than the 0% chance of winning if the goal goes in. So, Suarez took the handball, and gave his team a chance.
What happened next was utterly painful if you were pulling for Ghana and nigh on miraculous if you were pulling for Uruguay – Asamoah Gyan missed the PK off the crossbar. We’re headed to a shootout. Gyan made amends in the shootout by knocking his PK home. However, Uruguayan goalie Fernando Muslera blocked two other tries and Sebastian Abreu gave Urugay the victory on the last PK, in what the British commentator described as a “cheeky” shot. (Words can’t do it justice, go youtube it and watch the video.)
Suarez, one of Uruguay’s best players, will miss the next game due to the automatic one-game suspension for a red card. But I imagine he’s a national hero today. He sacrificed himself and gave his team a chance, a faint glimmer of hope. But any faint glimmer of hope is better than none.
So keep fighting out there, no matter what you’re facing. Keep giving yourself, or your team, or your family, or your friends and neighbors a chance to win. Even a faint glimmer of hope is better than none – and you never know what might happen next.