Brazil and the Beautiful Fraternity of Failure

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Today is Fraternity Friday, where we explore fraternalism, fraternité, frats, brotherhood, bros, and the masculine ties that bind us.

Have you ever seen someone fail so badly, so unexpectedly, after so much preparation, so astonishingly? All of us watching this Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal match between Brazil and Germany have. I went to The Bahche, the cafe where my bros and I watch the World Cup, around 30 minutes into the game, and Germany had already scored 5 to Brazil’s 0. “WTF!?!” the bros and I texted. After 2 more goals from Germany, it was almost pitifully touching when Brazil scored its only goal.

In the flurry of conversations after the game, astonishment (how could one of the world’s greatest teams lose so massively on their own home turf?)
became pronouncement (it was a lack of defense. Lack of teamwork. Lack of the star player. Even lack of presidential leadership.)

I’m not a huge football (soccer) fan, but I’ve watched much of the 2014 and 2010 world cups, swept along by (mostly non-American) friends who are fans. I’ve developed a soft spot for South American teams, whose players, at their best, remind me of octopuses– they transform from two-legged men into multi-legged, jointless acrobats who can kick a ball in any direction, from the front, the back, the side the bottom, the top.

This is one of the reasons I’m rooting for Brazil to win their final match. More poignantly, I want to see them pick themselves up after such epic failure. I see myself reflected in Brazil’s story this week. Two days after Brazil’s loss, my team and I had our own “epic” failure in a similarly public way: our Kickstarter campaign, for which we aimed to raise $200k, ended unsuccessfully, with only 7% raised. Like Brazil, we had pedigree, preparation, and press– all ingredients to make a failure particularly epic. (In a future post, I’ll discuss some of the lessons I’ve learned from this epic failure.)

This is where fraternalism is a truly beautiful thing. One reason that I decided not to stay at MIT for further study is that I wanted to return to my studio, my team, and my home. After the stress, the tears, and the second-guessing of our first Kickstarter, I’m so grateful to have been through this difficult but incredibly informative process with a team that I truly believe has my back. In the “beautiful” game of football, I imagine that the Brazilian players feel similarly– they share a unique experience with each other, and especially after their “epic” failure Germany, I bet they are glad they didn’t have to go it alone.