How great would it be if you were brought a box of homemade biscuits every morning at work? If you got to be coached by a man who talked plain, loved puns, and gave it to you straight? A man who said he didn’t care about winning or losing, and made you really believe him?
Ted Lasso is that man, and he is the person you want as your coach, your colleague, or your favorite team’s manager.
Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis on the eponymous comedy series now streaming on Apple TV+, is a cheery-eyed football coach from Kansas. He is plucked out of Wichita and dropped in Richmond, England to take the helm of Premier League club AFC Richmond. Once there, he needs to win over a divided locker room, a skeptical press corps, a prickly new owner and a rabid local fan base.
Is Ted Lasso a good coach?
That depends on who you ask. Ask the most die-heard football fan, and he will derisively laugh about how the “Wanker” doesn’t even understand the offside rule or know who won the league last year.
Lasso’s schtick, if you will, is a well-worn concept: “Everyone needs to work together.” “Teamwork makes the dream work.” “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” “Lets come together as a team.”
Or, as his new teammates, say: “Don’t be a prick.”
It’s a familiar theme in sports movies (and now TV shows), and the general misnomer is that that sentiment can make up for a team that is underprepared, inexperienced, and less skilled.
And while Lasso’s college mentality and lack of tactical football coaching would likely not work in a real Premier League team, it is impossible not to root for him.
I think it was a great decision to make Lasso a Midwesterner.
Lasso won his championship at Wichita State University, at the NCAA FCS level (previously known as Division 1-AA). In case you are wondering, Wichita State does not actually sponsor football.
But not only does his midwestern twang help add to the authenticity of the character, the fact that he won at a relatively anonymous level is an important trait.
Had Lasso been plucked out of Alabama or Ohio State, having won at the highest levels of the FBS, I don’t think that he would have the temperament or the optimism to deal with a Richmond squad that is middle of the table at best and usually at risk of relegation.
If Ted Lasso had won the Fiesta Bowl or the Rose Bowl, there is no way he could get away with his “winning doesn’t matter” attitude. He would come in with pressure on him and would have to demand results. His team would turn on him as a hard-ass manager with a lack of soccer knowledge, rather than getting the players to buy-in to being better people and a stronger team.
Ted Lasso seems uninterested, almost unaware, of his past success. It almost feels like Wichita State won the NCAA championship by accident.
In a way, AFC Richmond is the Wichita State football of the Premier League. And I can say that confidently because Wichita State football does not exist. So you can’t prove me wrong.
Most coaches, at all levels of sports, are kind of jerks.
We are in a day and age where AAU coaches think they are Phil Jackson and Little League managers treat their jobs like they are in the Big Leagues. There is so much pressure to win that coaches often forget that their primary responsibility, at least at amateur levels, is to inspire.
I once had a basketball coach who treated us like we were Division 1 scholarship recruits. He made us run suicides until some of us actually puked, played a very small rotation, meaning many of us didn’t get into games at all, and always carried himself like he was coaching for his job.
That coach was in the United Synagogue Youth (USY) basketball league. A Jewish youth group league during high school that we were paying dues to play in.
Lasso is optimistic to a fault.
It is literally what has caused his personal life to fall apart, and what initially makes him look like a farce to the press, fans and players at AFC Richmond.
But Ted Lasso doesn’t hide behind his optimism.
He is incredibly courageous. Whether it is in his personal life or his dealings with the team, he makes the hard, unpopular choices and he stands behind them.
Ted is compassionate, forgiving, and humble. All things that are relative anomalies in today’s sports climate.
Oh yeah, he’s also hilarious. Just check out his twitter feed.
Ted Lasso is not the coach that we deserve right now. But he’s the coach we all need.
One of the first things that Ted Lasso does when he gets to Richmond is hang a sign over his office door that says “Believe.” We will come to find out that he has these signs all over his house, including on his bathroom mirror to be seen every morning and night.
It’s a dark time we live in right now. Quite possibly the most discouraging, divided, and uncertain period in American history.
Lasso’s optimism provides more than just a half hour of laughs. It reminds me that there is still hope that we can pull out of this darkness if we follow the lessons that he teaches his players.
Forgive each other. Believe in each other. Speak your mind. Be a goldfish (the animal with the shortest memory). Make the extra pass.
And last but not least…
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