“Its just twenty two men running around the field chasing a bag of wind . . .”
Yes, its that time of the sporting calendar again when some journalist/columnist will see fit to wheel out that most hackneyed of quotes in the name of creative writing. Without fail, every single World Cup sees valuable column inches wasted by these tiresome tirades about how they are sick of having footie shoved down their throats, of the media-saturation that follows this sporting bonanza, and how they are missing their fave soaps due to other family members hogging the remote.
And at the risk of sounding like a fooking MCP, it’s almost always the women folk who feel the need to recycle this chestnut like they are dispensing some sort of sagely advice. As if having to put up with these pseudo-columnists isn’t fooking bad enough, unfortunately, many feel the need to repeat this ad museum as though it were some fooking mystic mantra. Me remembers when me was running a football-themed bistro during the 2002 World Cup and me overheard a lady patron spew out the above-mentioned quote.
Despite the place being jammed pack with customers and me was laden with orders, me coolly put down me tray and launched into an attack on this unfortunate soul who was telling her companions how silly men were for wasting time on such frivolous matters.
“How dare you belittle this beautiful game as mindless nonsense when you ladies lose all sense of reason & perspective when faced with four simple letters – S.A.L.E!” At which point her dining companions which included her hubby gave me a round of applause. Yes, me knows it sounds self-righteous-as-fook but all too often we have to listen to non-converts dole out such gems that me feels compelled to retort.
Why can’t they appreciate the excitement and unpredictability that is sports when they stay glued to vacuous soaps? Do they not realise that aside from sainthood, this is the closest thing a person can do to achieve immortality of sorts? Don’t believe me? Why are the names Garrincha, Puskas and Moore still talked about in such revered tones long after their owners have left their mortal coil.
Of course, many will try to defend their position by saying they can’t understand the hullabaloo when it is only a game. ONLY . . . A . . . GAME.
Again, their pig-ignorance fails to recognise the social importance football has on society. They will have failed to see how Zvonimir Boban became a national icon when he openly assaulted policemen who were beating on Croatian supporters at a Dinamo Zagreb v Red Star Belgrade game just before the Balkan states imploded into civil war.
Why is Maradona revered in his homeland when he openly cheated on the biggest stage of all? Because he single-handedly (yes, pun fully intended) buried the shame and humiliation a nation felt at their defeat in the Falklands War.
The above examples are perfect illustrations of George Orwell’s description of sports being war minus the weapons. But instead of revelling in the game’s ability to foster notions of nationhood, patriotism and even revolution, these ignoramuses prefer to see it as Neanderthals banging on the big drum of tribalism.
And if they had bothered to watch the fascinating documentary series on Astro’s ch804 called ‘International Football Rivalries’, they will note that Czechs and Slovaks are openly suspicious of each other but will countenance reunification only because the national football team would be in better shape!
Do these people not comprehend what it means to score in a World Cup final? One of the most enduring images me recalls is from the 1982 edition when Marco Tardelli reeled away bug-eyed with euphoria after his goal sent Italy on their way to their third crown. Such was the emotion that the term ‘Tardelli cry’ has entered the popular lexicon of Italy – meaning ‘unbridled joy’ or ‘crazy celebrations’. How’s that for cementing your place in folklore?
Me fully understands that not everyone appreciates the game but instead of spewing gormless sayings as the one above, they might do well to ponder on French Nobel Laureate Albert Camus’s altogether more meaningful quote -
“All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football."
Here’s to everyone enjoying the Copa Mundial in peace . . .
ps: me knows women (eg wifey) who know their shit who are, of course, NOT the target of this tirade . . .