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My Two Cents

My Two Cents

April 19, 2013
The Red Bulls’ Analyst: deferred gratification

Chris Brandon Whitaker writes The Red Bulls’ Analyst column monthly, providing “Analysis for a team and therapy for fans.”

By Chris Brandon Whitaker
Special to

For this month’s session, the Red Bulls’ Analyst will process the issue of deferred gratification with regard to the team’s slow start to the season.

Presenting Concern

With two wins, four losses, and two ties to their name, the Red Bulls are off to an unconvincing start. Several commentators point to the massive turnover in the team’s roster and coaching staff as reasons for the poor results, but many fans are unsatisfied with this answer. Wasn’t the point of all these changes to make the team better and not worse? The challenge for this year’s fans and players is to avoid giving up hope before the team begins to gel.

Client History

Let’s face it, the Red Bulls have rarely been a dominant team coming out of the blocks. Pre-season is never long enough for them, and it typically takes the first quarter of the season for the players to adjust to the new additions and to the new head coach’s strategy. Last season delivered one of the best starts to date, but that was largely the result of three years of stability under former head coach Hans Backe. Looking at the record, this year’s slow start should come as no surprise.

Mental Health Issue: deferred gratification

Deferred gratification is the ability to resist a desire for an immediate reward and to have patience for a later payoff. This is why Dax McCarty will wait to open all his presents at once on Christmas morning. Typically, the goal of deferred gratification is to avoid demanding a smaller, immediate gain at the cost of receiving a larger reward later on. For the same reason, Thierry Henry defers playing on artificial turf, so that he can play on grass later without injury. Wait, how does that go again?

Therapeutic Intervention: impulse control

The problem with deferred gratification is that, it’s hard to face down the old “we want what we want when we want it, and we want it now!” The question is: Can Red Bulls fans, players and front office control their impulses to hit the ejection button and wait for the team to build chemistry? Only time will tell whether they will improve under new head coach Mike Petke’s game plan.

While we wait to see if the players and front office can keep the faith during this rebuilding process, fans can practice impulse control to defer gratification right in Red Bull Arena:

* Go to a game even though the team stinks right now and try not to boo, hiss, or whistle at the Red Bull players.

* Try having just one beer before the match, one during halftime, and another after the final whistle instead of drowning your sorrows in advance at the pub.

* Resist the impulse to shout YSA along with the rest of the yobs. You’ve already admitted to yourself that it’s a lame tradition.

* Those enticing goopy nachos always give you heartburn: try something else in the food court.

Treatment: gratitude list

Cognitive strategies, such as the use of distracting positive thoughts, can increase a person’s ability to delay gratification. Making a gratitude list will help both fans and players feel good about the team during this poor start to the season. Remember how happy we are, because:

* Mike Petke, the man who bleeds for Metro, is our head coach.

* Albatross Rafa Marquez has migrated south of the border.

* Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola are fun to watch when they’re playing on your side.

* D.C., New England, and Philadelphia are still worse than New York.

For a city with more psychotherapists than bartenders and a team with more issues than a magazine stand, the Red Bulls’ Analyst offers therapeutic counsel rather than a cure.

"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
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