Commitment that could be seen in their energy, hunger, desire, collective spirit. Each player appeared to be giving his all for the cause. Digging deep into their well of resources. It’s like witnessing the best of the human endeavour. Seeing people build their character through acts of will.
When we discover that someone has taken performance enhancing drugs to succeed, then it leaves a bitter taste, knowing that they have not pushed their own natural and developed ability to the limit. But at least, even then, the aim of the drugs cheat is to find a way to win.
At Blackpool Football Club, the story is different. Five seasons ago the club was lighting up the Premier League. Now they are propping up League One and heading for certain relegation to the bottom division. There is every chance they will become the first Premier League team to fall into the Conference.
And why does this appear inevitable? Because chairman Karl Oyston has no will to succeed. He has taken the 2010 Premier League £96 million windfall and has not appeared to re-invest a penny. Happy to let the club drift. Happy to take suporters to court who question his motives. Happy to smirk contemptously when fans invade the pitch in protest. This is a man who upholds non of sports redeeming values.
If you removed will from sport, then you would have no demonstrations of courage in adversity. No breaking of records. No overcoming of the odds. It would limit the human capability to the already known, and the predictable.
Will is a pre-requisite for human sporting achievement. Which is why Karl Oyston’s conscious apathy contravenes the fundamental spirit of the game. Caught up in his own agendas, he has long since lost sight of the reason why a football club exists and the community it serves. He may succeed in his aim to take Blackpool out of the League. But in doing so, what kind of man will he have become?