Monday, 26 October 2009

Liverpool's win ... and the down side of football

I know I shouldn't have been, but I was absolutely amazed at the sheer exuberance of Reds fans' celebrations after Liverpool beat Man U (Sun 25 Oct 09).

I saw whooping and cheering and wild dancing and beer spilled everywhere - and that was just people watching on a TV screen in a pub. What must the home crowd at at Anfield have been like?

Professional football, eh? Why does it evoke such passions? The physical reality of the game is this...

A bunch of grown men are paid millions of quid each season to chase a ball around a field and try to kick it through a rectangle formed by three posts while another, usually very tall man, tries to stop the ball.

The sport allows men who would otherwise be undistinguished - being in the main poorly educated and (in quite a few cases) downright thick - to display great athleticism and highly developed balls skill with the head and feet and chest.

And yet those physical skills are, bizarrely, the least significant aspects, culturally, politically and psychologically, of the global phenomenon that is football.

Competitive football is, and always has been, about tribalism, about beating "the other lot".

That, of course, means you usually have to "hate" the other lot.

I'm quite sure that all the tribalism, the passion, the hatred (for example, the widespread and deeply felt hatred of Manchester United) that is in football, is bad for humankind.

And remember, the sensationalised TV coverage of top flight games powerfully feeds and hypes up all that hatred and misplaced passion.

Also, the fact that so much money is now involved in the pro game - with obscenely large wages paid to Merseyside heroes such as Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres - is a highly negative force.

It means that fans are ripped off for their season tickets, and for the catering facilities within the stadia, and for all the naff merchandising that is so relentlessly marketed.

I wonder, when Premier League players gather socially together in their mansions are they laughing down their designer sleeves at the poor sods who put so much hope, so much anxiety and so much hard-earned cash into the game.

No comments:

Post a Comment