I’m not a soccer enthusiast, nor much of a sports fan generally, but I have recently become a big fan of the Apple TV show “Ted Lasso.” In case anyone is less up to date than I am (doubtful), the show, which premiered in 2020, is about a college football coach from Kansas who is hired as head coach of a British professional soccer club, ostensibly to bring it out of the doldrums.

We learn in the first episode that Rebecca Welton, having acquired the team in a bitter divorce from her philandering husband, Rupert, has actually hired Lasso, a complete soccer neophyte, in the hope he’ll destroy the team, thereby giving her revenge on Rupert, who loved the team (and other women) more than he did Rebecca.

Lasso is, of course, unaware of his new boss’s true agenda, and gamely goes into his first press conference the day of his arrival in London, exposing his ignorance for all to see.

Nevertheless, he begins trying to learn the game and, more importantly, to get to know his players, his new boss and her marketing director, Higgins, whose first name we don’t know until well into the first season.

Without giving too much away (surely there’s someone who has yet to see the series?), Ted applies the same method that enabled him to turn a losing college team into champions — he treats everyone with kindness, respect and genuine interest. As he says at one point, his job is to help the players become the best version of themselves.

For example, one of the first people to show him around the club facilities is Nathan, the “kit man.” I suppose he would be the equivalent of a towel boy for an American football team. A nobody, a team hanger-on, picked on by some of the players and disregarded by the rest. Ted, desperate to learn about the game he’s supposed to coach, takes strategic advice from Nathan, and begins to ask him in front of the players what he thinks the team should do. At first this doesn’t go over well, but when the advice works out, Nathan gains stature and respect.

This personal magic, if you will, is a big part of the show. Ted is not a ninny or naive, though he is not a complicated person. But he is genuinely a decent, nice guy who cares about people. His unfailing kindness — every day he brings Rebecca “biscuits,” cookies he has made himself, but pretends to have bought somewhere in the city — has an almost irresistible effect, though it takes longer to work on some than on others.

Another big part of the show is the players, both on and, mostly, off the field. They have romantic rivalries, encounter moral dilemmas, take on side gigs and generally get up to activities that keep the show moving. They also swear — a lot. One of the notable features of the show, to me, at least, is the number of times the f-word is used. We hear it in the mouth of almost everyone except Ted. He’s not a prig, it would just be out of character for him to be a potty-mouth.

Ted, too, goes through changes. His marriage comes apart. He faces the lasting effects of a terrible childhood trauma and endures betrayal. His team suffers a heartbreaking loss.

Through it all, he demonstrates the value of personal integrity, decency and kindness. He is the anti-hero of this misanthropic hour. And the show’s popularity indicates just how much missed his sterling qualities are.

As one of the players frequently says, “Football is life.” For this show and its main character, that’s true, in the best possible way.

Sarah E. Reynolds is a former editor of The Republican Journal.