Sport is an aspect of society that is nigh-on universally celebrated in one form or another. You find it littered across the back pages of newspapers, on the most expensive television channels and flaunted on the clothing of hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts around the world. We love it and there’s something about it that holds our interest. But is it something that we should be holding in such high esteem or have we got too caught up in something that should never have held the influence in our culture that it does now?
As a British man, being asked the question, “which football team do you support?” is much like the question, “what kind of music do you like?” – the person asking the question expects you to have an opinion. In my experience, other men find this topic very comfortable and are happy to launch into into a well thought out discussion or argument about some team or manager or player or transfer or goal etcetera. I have seen this subject dominate the conversations of men for hours but, apart from being extraordinarily unimportant, is there actually anything wrong with their enthusiasm?
On the surface it seems ridiculous that there could be anything wrong with sitting down and enjoying a good game of football but when you look deeper it doesn’t seem as straightforward as one might expect. Firstly, it shouldn’t matter so much to the general public who wins or loses a game. I find it interesting how people can justify identifying themselves with a club without playing for them or working for them. Sure, it used to be the case that football clubs would be made up of local people and so the community spirit was understandable but these days players are often not just from different counties but from different continents. It seems silly to me to be traditional about this; there is nothing Mancunian about Manchester United F.C. any more, that’s just where they happen to play. So when I see people screaming at television screens or crying at stadiums it leaves me wondering if there mightn’t be a healthier outlet for these people’s emotions, perhaps they should give up the pretence and save their feelings for something real.
I just think we have a responsibility as human beings to commit ourselves to the things that are really important in life. If you’re one of the people that finds yourself shouting at the television screen, furious with your team’s performance, then perhaps if you looked a bit deeper you’d find what you were really angry about. Life is very short and can be lived a lot better if we are honest with ourselves, look past our pride and humble ourselves. If something makes you happy or sad, let it be because it’s something that matters, something that means something.
So I think sport should be enjoyed, yes. But as an appreciation of excellence or a way to keep fit. Not as some tribal battle. As adults we should be in control of our own emotions and look up to people worth looking up to.
We can do better.