This is yet again, probably not the blog you are expecting. As you may or may not be aware, the UEFA European Championships are once again upon us. I found out via Facebook. First FB kindly asked if I would like to share scores, or some such. Then there was the influx of complaints about the football. I guess I am lucky, I can mostly avoid football in my ..’real life’ feels wrong.. my physical life? Non Cyber life? Okay that term is something I will need to work on.
Now I went on to see an interesting debate on a friend’s page following on from the question of football and why football tends to garner a certain reaction from fans, which isn’t present in other sports, an example used most often is Rugby, but you could through things like Tennis, Basketball, Hockey and if feeling facetious you could (and someone did) suggest Chess.
My conclusion at the time was thus : Could it also be the type of person that the game itself attracts, for example those who follow sports also to a degree play the sport. Football non violent so there is always a degree of frustration both on and off the pitch whereas rugby is a violent game, where issues are resolved. Chess is an intellectual game, and so any arguments would be resolved with coherent debate, so I would suggest this would be the case in a perceived slight either as competitor or audience member? I would extrapolate that it might have something with the amount of testosterone that either participating or watching causes to be released, and how it is channeled, effectively or not.
But this hasn’t left me, as clearly, the football won’t be either, going by the signs of patriotism I saw on my way into town this morning (flags, houses and cars, festooned.. each to their own, I have Halloween decorations outside my home) and so I have continued to ponder this. If you are wondering why this has taken on so much of my time, I compartmentalise and so I am generally thinking on a number of topics or subject. But I have since drawn comparisons to the idea of ‘carnival’ which I did a blog post on last year The art of carnival! which was a brief exposition on what carnival once was and meant.
You see, things always happen for a reason. I don’t mean, you missed your bus and ended up in a coffee shop and met your one true love. I am talking about timing. We still have festivals at certain times of year, the timetables have not changed, since before Christ. We have celebrations at certain times of year. For example, you could suggest that we have football tournaments at this time of year because the weather is at its more temperate. Which is a lie. It is an international game now, so the weather will be different depending what hemisphere you are standing on at the time. And we should… well.. the idea is that it should be relatively warm. It isn’t. It is because we have kept to the festival days in rough approximation for … well as far back as we care to go.
Is football a legitimised ‘carnival’ of sorts – well, yes, actually i would say it is. There is the idea that anything go’s, that it doesn’t count, there is a holiday atmosphere and to an extent it is encouraged. Why our fans (among others, England fans are not alone!) are so … extreme in their behavior may have something to do with the long hours that are put in, the lack of money for entertainment. From the moment you commit to becoming an adult, you are expected to provide, either yourself, or later your family. You become responsible and you can’t just go off for a weekend and leave your troubles behind. You have a wife, children, a job. When you go on holiday you are with your family. You are with other families, you have to keep some of that veneer of responsibility alive.
But going away with the ‘lads’ is reminiscent of holidays that have to a degree, become a right of passage for many young people, going to Spain and other, far but still close, destinations that are hot, and cheap. That you can just get away from your real life, let your hair down, drink too much, spend too much time in the sun, and get a tattoo or 3 that you instantly regret. You are young, possibly singe (but who will tell) you have just finished school, college or in a break at uni. This is all very natural and part of human nature, and again comes into the idea of carnival. One of the themes is hiding your true self, either by mask or by becoming something you are not. For some people it is becoming promiscuous, or a heavy drinker, someone who has tattoos. I am not for a moment trying to become judgemental but this is my attempt at understanding the phenomenon! This is great when you are either just heading toward your Twenties, or mid twenties, but the older you get the more responsible, you have to adult.
And so, it reaches a point where you need a natural release. For families, local councils still offer ‘opiate for the masses’ by offering fun fairs, markets, entertainment that is relatively inexpensive and accessible by all. But it isn’t letting your hair down. It isn’t the type of letting down of hair and general debauchery that we are more likely to think as Roman. So while it is good at helping the towns citizens feel a little better about living there, and spaced throughout the year so that it not only makes everyone feel good, it allows for exchange of coin, people coming into the town and people having a good reason to visit other towns, thereby promoting tourism albeit on a small scale.
But this is like I said, not really enough, if you work 40+ hours a week, you live with several other people of varying sex and age, with familial dynamics, where you have to be constantly aware of what others needs and wants are and often putting them in front of your own. But when you get to go away on to see a football tournament, you are encouraged to a degree to get lairy, to cheer, to promote your own team winning over others, you get competitive. You drink. A lot. Often you are in the sun for hours at a time and there is a feeling, generally, of festivities. We are pack animals, we are often effected by moods of those around us. So when there is a lot of goading, celebration, attitude of ‘them versus us’ it is infectious. It is spur of the moment, holiday mood, you are being validated because you are supporting your team either locally or nationally and you need to defend your team and your own honour.
So, during the course of writing this, England were knocked out, and unfortunately, so were Germany. Which I am very upset about. Don’t talk to me about it. Still fresh. See, even someone who has zero interest in the sport, gets upset when her home team gets knocked out! But I can’t condone the violence, but I think I can now, understand it to an extent.