Arts Ted Lasso, Nate and Coach Beard

Published on April 15th, 2021 | by msalt


Ted Lasso is the Empty Boat

Probably the most surprising hit show of the last year is Ted Lasso, a concept that seems ridiculous. A hyper-optimistic American Division 2 football coach is hired to helm an English Premiere League soccer team. (Sorry Brits, the name football is already taken here, but you know what I mean.)

The secret to the show was given away by star and creator Jason Sudeikis, in a 2020 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

“The feeling at the end of the day of writing this guy or pretending to be this guy, it’s nice. He’s egoless. He’s Mr. Rogers meets John Wooden.”

He’s egoless. In professional sports, which are sick with pride and ego, a truly and genuinely egoless person has a mysterious advantage. And it gives them protection against anger.

Chuang Tzu wrote:

“If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty.
He would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat
Crossing the river of the world,
No one will oppose you,
No one will seek to harm you.”

The man in the boat, of course, is ego. If you can let go of the need to steer your boat, and pay attention to where the current wants to take you, you can avoid a lot of problems. It doesn’t hurt if you have a huge heart, either.

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About the Author

Mark Saltveit is a writer, standup comedian, skimboarder and dad based in Middlebury, Vermont. His improv show "Palindrome Fight!" will be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Aug. 5-29th 2022 at the Kilderkin Pub, 67 Canongate, at 7:30pm each night except Tuesdays.

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