Super Eight

Football an Eight Paradigm

On Super Bowl Sunday America celebrates Eightness. Football is an Eight paradigm. To begin with, each team wears matching jerseys, so the field is recognizably divided into good guys and bad guys. This kind of emotional clarity resembles the mind of an entranced Eight. Eights live in a hostile world and they are fiercely loyal to those they love and want to protect.

Secondly, Eightishness is about power. "Smash-mouth football," as it is referred to, is an Eight trademark. Eights look for power in all situations. In a hostile world you have to know who is powerful and who isn't. Many Eights will start fights, verbal or physical, just to find out the strength of their partner. If you stand strong in one way or another, you earn an Eight's respect. If you are weak, no amount of goodness or placating or appeal to authority will endear you to them.

Eights are fiercely loyal, especially in combat, so they make fine teammates. You can count on them to give it their all. And in combat, another characteristic shows up: they frequently have extremely high pain thresholds. Nobody can play injured like an Eight. They pride themselves on not showing or giving into weakness or pain.

Eights, unless they have an unusually strong connection to Five, focus their attention outwardly. They like their power physical, not mental or artistic, so football suits them well.

Football teams often develop fierce rivalries. Eights do, too. People who oppose them can become objects of obsessive hatred. (Think of Rush Limbaugh's obsession with the Clintons, especially Hilary). This obsession reduces the enemy to nothing but evil, without nuance, differentiation or redeeming feature. The high side of the obsession, of course, is the fanatic loyalty to the team. In times of trial, you want them on your side!

Eights have an inner need to be strong. Regardless of the situation (I saw an Eight get angry because he felt bad that he couldn't help his daughter with her algebra), an Eight feels an inner responsibility to be strong enough to handle the situation. This quality makes them ultra-responsible at times, and the responsibility can become unreasonable. They can make exorbitant demands on their body, for example, driving themselves to get control of a situation, a business or a relationship.

All Enneagram styles are control strategies. An Eight prefers the tactic of getting you to surrender. Football is pleasing to them because there is no doubt about who won. Whoever has the most points is stronger and is in control. Sportsmanship trophies are not awarded or wanted. Just answer this: " "Who is number one?"

Eights inflate their presence. They can fill up a room with their expansive energy. This expansion is in service of protecting the soft inner self within. As with a 280 pound lineman, approach an Eight with gentleness. Many women with type Eight husbands describe them as pussy-cats. Beneath that bluff exterior is a child in need of protection. An Eight friend of mine broke into tears several times while reading about Eights in an Enneagram book. At first I was shocked when I heard it, but it makes sense -- the author didn't attack, he appealed to their inner sense of justice.

Which leads me back to the Superbrawl. It is not a brawl. They play by strict rules and Eights like it that way. They want fairness. They are hostile because see the world as hostile and unfair. When Eights are entranced they seek vengeance instead of justice, but when healthy they appreciate justice a great deal. The referees know all the players want a fair game when the atmosphere is this Eightish. The Sicilian defense department, or mob as it is usually called, came into being precisely because the immigrants were not getting justice from the police and juridical system. Most gangs are Eightish in their energy and they see themselves as having to defend themselves against a system rigged against them.

Teamwork is healthy for Eights. When they are entranced, they turn their power to protect their self-interest. The glory hog who doesn't help the team doesn't last long in football and everyone connected with the game admires modesty, especially among the talented who could play more for themselves. Giving up one's body for the team is considered a highly virtuous act. Teamwork is underestimated as a way to overcome egotism, but it is one of the great things preserved by a seriously flawed patriarchal system.


  1. Eights often cannot hear opposition. If you are an Eight, attend a meeting, take notes and see how well you can recall the opinions of others.
  2. Nuance is important to an Eight. If you are an Eight, describe your opposition (and trust me, you will be able to think of people and ideas you oppose) Describe their attitudes with as much accuracy, stating what they don't hold and what they are ambiguous about. Avoid all temptation to say things like "Well, it all boils down to..." When you boil things down, you lose many subtle flavors. Describe your opponents with subtlety.

    Discussion questions:

  1. How does Rush Limbaugh use his Eight energy to make friends and dittoheads?
  2. John Wayne is an Eight. Compare and contrast with Limbaugh. (Excuse me for using all male examples, but our culture doesn't allow female Eights to become popular).
  3. Jesus in the first century and many corporate leaders these days talk about Servant Leadership. Describe how an Eight would fare trying to implement this notion.