Ted Lasso (actually Jason Sudeikis though he will forever be Ted Lasso to me) was my breakout star of the pandemic, the pandemic, which apparently may continue through the third season of the series and beyond, and yes, the same pandemic that is making me crazy! But that is another story. When I first heard about the series, I did not rush right out to view it. I am not crazy about American football, let alone global football. When Brian was a wee lad (can’t help myself when I go British) and began to play soccer, I was hopelessly lost. From the looks of things, most of the players were too. I remember thinking that all they did in those early years was to stand in a wad of wee lads kicking one another as often as kicking the ball. Again, that is another story, a particularly beloved one.
If you don’t know the series, this is all you need to know for context: Ted, a very B-level football coach, through a series of bizarre and largely unbelievable circumstances, moves to London from Kansas to coach a real football (soccer) team. The team is down on its luck, and Ted knows nothing about football (soccer) and personally is going through a rough patch. It is a royal mess.
But Ted brings something better than years of experience and expertise in soccer; he brings belief, the capacity to believe. In addition to telling his new team endless and largely non-understandable hokey stories—corny does not begin to approach it, he believes in them when they neither believe in themselves nor particularly deserve to be thusly regarded by anyone.
Enter Ted Lasso the Christ figure. I am being neither heretical nor sappy here. In the storyline, at least for this aging priest, prone to occasional bouts of cynicism, Ted is a Christ figure. I don’t know Jason. But I do know Ted, and I am telling you he is One. He believes, really believes; and though I have no idea whether he would pass anyone’s test of orthodoxy, I am inspired by the power and scope of his belief and particularly how it is filled with love.
Signs with the word, “BELIEVE,” begin appearing around the locker room. It is a big word in my vocational parlance; and though I suppose the argument could be made that in his world it has little to do with faith, religious faith, I strongly disagree. Seeing that word, “BELIEVE,” posted for all moves me deeply and causes me to ponder who exactly it is in whom I believe and what it is in which I truly believe—so much so that I have created my own version of the sign, which now adorns the transom above the doorway into my master bathroom. (No amount of belief will ever make me an artist.)
Our creeds begin “we believe.” To believe in Latin is opinor, which means opinion; it is not a religious word. Credo, on the other hand, is the word, we more nearly mean. It has to do with religious believing. Credo means, “I set my heart upon” or “I give my heart to” and is much closer to what we mean when speaking of faith. Unfortunately, in medieval English, the concept of credo was translated as believe, but it meant the same as its German cousin belieben, which means love or pleasure. In early English, then, to believe something meant to belove it or to find pleasure in it. It is that kind of believing to which Ted’s sign points me.
When I glance at my little homemade sign, I think of those to whom I truly give my heart, thereby believing in them with all I have and am; when I walk under that sign I think of those cherished hopes and convictions to which I cling about faith and love, about life and death. And in so doing, I am reminded of who I truly am and what matters most.
Believing is beloving, and it can change the world.