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On the fickleness of sporting alliegances

“There is nothing original in the reflection that football has a frightening capacity to make shocking hypocrites of us all.”

So writes Matthew Norman, apropos the recent changing circumstances of a player who at one point was on the verge of being fired and shamed for refusing to play, and is now regarded as a great guy for his recent performances.

What all this tells us is that sports fans, like others who have a tribal loyalty to an institution, can convince themselves of contradictory views with ease. On the positive side, if sport allows people to channel their atavistic urges in a vaguely harmless way, all well and good. Alas, the absurdities of the situation do become quite irritating particularly in cases where a sportsman is a villain one minute for allegedly saying or doing something nasty, and is treated as a god the next for being able to, say, kick a ball accurately over 50 yards.

George Orwell, by the way, was very harsh on team sports, particularly when national alliegances were involved, but the same on a smaller scale applies to clubs within the same nation. Here is a quote:

I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between the nations, and that if only
the common peoples of the world could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the battlefield.

Set against all this, it has to be said that it is heartening to see what appears to be mostly genuine sympathy for a Bolton footballer who had a heart attack during a match a few days’ ago. He’s very lucky to be alive. I do wonder if one problem with football these days is that in the English Premiership particularly, it is played at a helter-skelter pace. If you look at a match of, say, 40 years ago when the likes of George Best or Jimmy Greaves were strutting their stuff, the game seemed to be a bit slower. Just a thought.

4 comments to On the fickleness of sporting alliegances

  • RAB

    Sport, like Diplomacy, is war by other means.

    It alters tribal loyalty not one jot, in fact it re-enforces it. No-one ever cheers for the best team unless their team isn’t playing.

    I wanted Wales to win the Grand Slam at Rugby last week because I am Welsh, and my tribal loyalty is very strong. I will cheer for Wales even when we are playing crap (which is rarely these days ;-). But being a rugby fan, unlike say a soccer fan, will begrudgingly admit when my team is well beaten by a finer side.

    Which brings us to the Olympics. Bringing Nations together in the spirit of peace and harmony? Pull the other one! The biggest and most expensive ego massaging mistake of all time.

  • Thanks for the link to Orwell. This is why I don’t watch the England football team.

  • The last toryboy

    Ever heard of the Football War?


  • Andrew Duffin

    Played at a helter-skelter pace?

    Is it? I know nothing about football, but the last time I happened to be in a room where a television apparatus was operating (as Peter Simple used to say) and saw part of a football match, it looked about as fast as paint drying.

    Just out of interest, have you ever watched an ice hockey match? Doing so might recalibrate your idea of what constitutes a “helter-skelter pace”.