So far in my 95 entries (wow 100 might requires something special) I’ve refrained from mentioning sport. You may have noticed this, or if you don’t know me you probably haven’t, because if you know me you’ll know that I quite enjoy playing and watching sport. With the Football World Cup around the corner I feel this is a good opportunity to explain why I don’t like to write about sport here and why a lot of sport pisses me the hell off, football (soccer to you Americans) especially.
I made a rule fairly early on in my blogging career (sorry, that is not the right word… ‘Adventure’ we’ll call it), that I would refrain from writing about sport because I find that sport tend to be very divisive and will only really interest a small number of people. Now this same accusation could be levelled at music, but the thing is with music is that one does not just like one particular band or genres to the exclusion of everything else, people tend to be fairly open minded and willing to listen to other styles and other bands of a style they like (on that note I recommend you all go listen to the New Pornographers and Modest Mouse). This is not the case with sport because people tend to support one (or maybe two or three) teams in each sport, and only really like two or three sports if that. So if I started blogging about my favourite Rugby or Cricket team, the likelihood of anyone actually giving a damn is pretty low, unless I advertised on a forum for that particular club, but in my experience people who go to sports team forums are unlikely to be interested in indie music. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I doubted any of you would care about sport enough to read. Even if most of you did care about sport (which you might), it’s unlikely that many of you would care about the right sports or the right teams for my ramblings to mean anything. I am even more reluctant to write about my own personal sporting achievements because, unless you know me personally, you would probably care even less.
Another very good reason for not writing about sport is that a large number of sports and even more sports fans fill me with such uncontrollable rage that this blog would eventually descend into so much bile and hate directed at sporting culture that you would all stop reading it because your eyes would start burning. This leads in very nicely to what I really want to talk about today – the disturbing attitude of many people towards sport and, in particular, football and the upcoming world cup.
You might be asking why I call it disturbing; it is a strong, foreboding word which implied some kind of danger involved. Well the reason is that the kind of enthusiasm and irrational dedication people have towards sports teams is exactly the same as the kind of enthusiasm and irrational dedication nationalists have towards their country. Sports fans (and I’m generalising here, I know many people support sports teams without adhering to this model, but if even if you don’t, you know someone who does, actually you know someone who does even if you don’t support a sports team) want their team to do well; no they want their team to be the best, so much so that it offends them when other people are better than them. In fact they are so convinced that their team is the best that, whenever anyone beats them, they find someone to blame; a player, a coach, a referee (usually the referee), but they never loose the faith that someday they will win. Now wanting your team to do well is fine, but when it gets to the point when you despise other teams for doing well and despise their fans for supporting a team that is doing well, things are getting a little far. The thing is that this allegiance, no matter how strong, is based solely on where you were born of maybe where your father was born, or where you live.
This is worrying enough because it is irrational, but let me do a little experiment. Here is a large chunk of the paragraph I just wrote, with all the references to sport replaced with references to nationalism.
Nationalists want their country to do well; no they want their country to be the best, so much so that it offends them when other nations are better than them. In fact they are so convinced that their country is the best that, whenever anyone beats them, they find someone to blame; a leader, a general, luck, but they never loose the faith that someday they will win. Now wanting your country to do well is fine, but when it gets to the point when you despise other countries for doing well and despise their people for being from a nation that is doing well, things are getting a little far. The thing is that this allegiance, no matter how strong, is based solely on where you were born of maybe where your father was born, or where you live.
I think you get the point; the same basic instinct which drives people to nationalism (and if you don’t get what is wrong with nationalism I suggest you study the history of the 19th and early 20th centuries, or maybe I’ll write a blog about it someday), also drives sports fandom. Of course when the two meet it is impossible to separate them (because they’re the same thing). Support for a national sports team involves lots of flag waving and racism. We start hating people from other countries because they’re from other countries.
This is why the World Cup annoys me. It is such a coveted prize, because if you win you are obviously the best in the world and you can revel in that knowledge for the next decade or so, that people go absolutely batshit loco about it. They get so into the even that they forget that it’s just 22 people kicking a ball about for 90 minutes. People from every country buy into this mad concept, despite the fact that most of them will end up being disappointed because there can only be one winner. People get very excited over something which, ultimately, means nothing. I don’t mind that so much as the fact that they actually turn to violent, nationalistic hatred for other countries for the sake of a cup which they themselves played no actual part in winning.
Maybe I don’t quite ‘get’ something that is going in here, but all the emotional investment people make into sport is a complete waste of time, effort and money because most of the time, most teams will loose in the end. The entire concept of supporting a sports team is highly irrational and is indicative of a dangerous attitude which I think we would all be better off without. I’m not saying we should not follow sport, or even support a team, but I think our support should be somewhat less fervent and much less like nationalism, because that kind of attitude it a dangerous one.