The Diamond Dogs

I like institutions.  

I admire people who can call institutions into being.  I have tried it myself from time to time and I know it isn’t always easy.  Knowing how hard it is, my heart goes out to Ted Lasso, (on the Apple + app) who, though fictional, it as good as they come at institution building.

Here is a description I have cribbed from Frank Hearn [1]

” lnterdependencies are established in the activities carried out by people who depend on one another for the achievement of valued goals”

And, as Hearn says later. 

lnterdependencies must be attachments which invoke personal obligation to others within a community of concern.

In Season 1, Episode 8, “The Diamond Dogs,” Ted creates an institution on the spot.  You can watch him do it—both Phase 1 and Phase 2—by looking for “Ted Lasso Diamond Dogs” on YouTube. Choose the 4:56 version.  But read this post first.

Ted has, for reasons we need not go into here, “lady problems.” To deal with them, he calls
together a very odd collection of “friends.” [2]  Going clockwise around the picture and skipping the first person who is “it” at this session of the Diamond Dogs, you see Nate, Higgins, Coach Beard, and Ted.  Nate was the equipment manager when Ted got there; Higgins was the completely subordinated servant of the owner of the club, who was deeply hostile to Ted at first; then there is Coach Beard, whom Ted brought with him to England from Kansas; and Ted.  These are the Diamond Dogs.

Nate came up with the name and Ted recognized instantly that it was perfect.Now that is a moment to treasure. 

I am a member of a Bible study group at my church; the group has the extremely odd name, “2 Dudes and a Bible.”  Here is how we got that name.  A friend of mine was dissatisfied with the group we had both been attending.  It was not serious at all about studying our scriptures. [3]  And my friends said, “Why can’t there be a real Bible study.”  I said, “There can be.  Let’s start one.”

I talked to the Director of Christian Education about it.  She thought it was a great idea, but if she was going to reserve a room in the church for us, she would have to have something to call us.  It had not occurred to either my friend or me that we would have to be called anything, so I hadn’t thought about it at all.  The Director, in a moment of frustration, burst out, “Well we can’t just call it 2 Dudes and a Bible!”

The name hung in the air between us.  As I think back on that moment, I picture the two of us looking at it, at the name, suspended in the air over her desk like a thought balloon.  I think we both knew as the sounds of the name sank in that it would be—would have to be—the name of the group.  There are nine of us now, but we are still 2 Dudes and a Bible.  Like the Diamond Dogs

So although Ted Lasso is a master of institution-creation and I just had a lucky break, I do know how to celebrate his achievement, which is today’s topic.  So the Diamond Dogs were created in Phase 1.  In Phase 2, Roy comes to the coach’s office with “lady problems.”  Coach says he knows just what to do and dials up the Dogs.  They all come in in a matter of moments, each taking the position he took in Phase 1.

They come up with a solution quickly and inaudibly.  Ted says something, then Nate, then Higgins and Ted sees that the problem has been solved.  The solution has not yet been articulated, but it exists clearly in the minds of the Diamond Dogs.  It is so clear that Ted’s instructions to Coach Beard are just “Take it home, Coach.”  So coach puts in words what he knows to be the group’s solution, “Grow up.  And get over it.l”  And Ted raises both arms in an American football signal for “touchdown.”

Roy is not happy.  He utters a familiar vulgarity and stomps out, but the Dogs know they are right and begin barking or howling or baying or whatever dogs do of the kind they think they are.  During which Ted is panting enthusiastically like a happy dog on a hot day.  What the solution is, we are not sure; how they reached it, we are not sure; how they recognized that they had instinctively acted as an institution—as Hearn defines it—we are not sure.  But the celebration is automatic, coordinated, and perfect.

And in the middle of all of it there is an acute attention to language used and references made, like “All that Chandler Bingin’ aside…” for instance.  Nate remarks, “S’Wonderful,” and Ted says, “Oh, nice shout out to the Gershwin brothers there.”  Ted pretends to be making the case supporting Roy’s jealousy, but in fact, is all ironic and Nate says, “Oh, he means the opposite.  I  love it when coach does that.”  Roy says, “I can’t control my feelings,” and Ted responds in way over the top mode, “Well, then by all means, let your feelings control you!”  And Higgins says, “Oh….he’s doing it again.”

These are the sensitivities of a well-established group that has been together for awhile and has learned to appreciate the subtle quirks.  Excerpt we know they haven’t.  This is their first really convened meeting.  The ease with which they function is just another put on.

It is an institution functioning at its best with no reason at all why it should.

[1]  Moral Order and Social Order (1997) who, in this quotation, relies on John Braithwaite (1989) as he describes “communitarian interdependencies.”  It is in this sense that I am using the word “institution.”

[2]  If you get anywhere near Ted Lasso, you are a “friend.”

[3]  I will say on their behalf that that was not what they were trying to do.

About hessd

Here is all you need to know to follow this blog. I am an old man and I love to think about why we say the things we do. I've taught at the elementary, secondary, collegiate, and doctoral levels. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. I have taught political science for a long time and have practiced politics in and around the Oregon Legislature. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. You'll be seeing a lot about my favorite topics here. There will be religious reflections (I'm a Christian) and political reflections (I'm a Democrat) and a good deal of whimsy. I'm a dilettante.
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