More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Passion In Football

I saw a news report about passion in football today and felt compelled to write about it. What is it about football that makes people so passionate. And I don't mean it in a good way. I'm talking about being so passionate that people get violent and abusive. I was talking to my friend John about this and I was saying how football is only a sport. I love the game but still its only a sport to me and people shouldn't take it so seriously. His response was that I'm not passionate enough about the sport. He said that if you are truly passionate about football, its almost like going to war. I said I can never understand people that feel that way.

Somehow, something in football elicits such raw passion and emotion from people. You don't see people who support golf or volleyball start fighting because the person or team they support lost. But in football, there are news stories of fights at games all the time. Lots of people get injured and occasionally some even die.

I think one aspect that helps fuel the fights is that there are so few goals in football. The spectators may be drinking all game and whereas in other sports, they can let out their emotions by cheering for numerous goals, in football, there might only be one goal in the whole match. The built up emotion can erupt from one group of supporters whilst the opposing supporters may feel unfairly done and resentment towards the cheering supporter who are rubbing it in.

There are probably more deeply rooted cultural factors that I'm not entirely aware of since I don't feel that connection with any team. Usually the worse fights occur when rival teams or countries who play each other also have a history of war against each other. One example is that even in the Australian league of past years, when the Greek and Macedonian teams played each other, there was always the risks of fights erupting due to the historical hatred between the two nations due to wars in the past.

I see all this violence as totally unnecessary. This is sport after all, politics shouldn't be involved. If we are truly to enjoy "The Beautiful Game", why taint it with all this ugliness. The most famous example was when a Columbian player was killed after he scored an own goal at the World Cup. How can anyone justify killing another human being due to a mistake in a sporting game.

Less extreme cases of misguided passion is when supporters abuse the players in opposition teams personally and in most cases racially. This also happens in other sports but is so prevelant in football. I've even seen woman and kids join in. Its such a shame that some kids should grow up associating abuse with passion when they are supporting their teams. The players don't deserve this. They are merely doing a job that they love and are trying their best. In the news report I saw, some of the players say that they actually break down from time to time due to all the insults thrown at them.

If football, and the World Cup in particular, is supposed to be the event that stops the world for a second and unites it, lets hope it can happen in an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance rather than violence and racism.


Blogger afrobev said...

In all honesty and I can only speak about the football over here in Britain, is the form of 'tribalism' that goes with the sport these days and one of the places where I lay the blame is on the media and in particular 'Sky Sports'.

Every football is built up to 'fever pitch' to the point where they highlight and encourage fierce rivalries between fans and build every game up as if it was a war of some kind. Sky Sports do this for more or less every match.

The other place I lay blame in a certain way Thanh is our beloved internet. Fans (if thats what you can call some of them) abuse each other online and in chat rooms to the point of arranging meetings for fights at the next game between opposing teams. It's senseless and barbaric.

I remember a day when at F.A Cup finals between Liverpool and Everton (two neighbouring sides) that fans would sit together (red and blue) at Wembley and respect one another. Now the bitterness is so much that the rival fans despise each other with as you say a 'passion'. So in less than twenty years something has gone seriously wrong in the game.

I think a lot of football fans use the word passion as a substitute for violence and thuggery and they in my mind are not real football fans...they are just yobs.

6/13/2006 2:45 AM  
Anonymous Ivonne said...

Hi Thanh,

This is a very interesting post. Last night after celebrating a friend's birthday over dinner, we decided to head over to a popular ice cream parlour in one of Toronto's more culturally diverse neighbourhoods. As we were ordering our ice cream, a fight broke out between supporters of two different teams in the World Cup. I couldn't believe my eyes.

I am a huge supporter of Italy as my background is Italian. Canada's national team has never qualified for the World Cup so what usually happens is that Canadians support the team that represents their roots.

We can get very excited about the games ... but to allow that to become violence is unspeakable.

I think a lot of it comes from aggression that people harbour in their everyday lives. Give them something as dramatic as the World Cup and they suddenly have an excuse to release that aggression.

I don't support it or agree with it in anyway. All it does is ruins the entire moment for everyone!

6/13/2006 1:15 PM  
Blogger thanh7580 said...

James, I think you're right in that the media don't help the situation. They do highlight these issues and make a point of replaying fights endlessly. This infuriates one side or the other, or even both, who feel that they are being treated unfairly by the media.

I've also found that the internet is another outlet for anger. Recently I was on a forum and people were discussing the friendly between Greece and Australia. Well one guy happened to say that he was Greek and supporting Australia and that any other Greeks who grew up in Australia and didn't support Australia were traitors and unworthy of living here. This turned some intellectual discussion about sport into a slanging match between various people about the rights and wrongs of who to support. A few people, like myself, were urging others to just chill a bit and not get so worked up about a game.

I agree with you that a lot of people do use passion as a disguise for violence and a chance to seek revenge on others due to historical cultural events (such as war between countries) that took place.

Ivonne, have you ever felt negative attitudes towards you because you support Italy despite living in Canada? I don't understand why people aren't allowed to support anyone they want. Its freedom of choice and doesn't mean that you hate any other person or not fully appreciative of the country you live in. We all should be able to hold on to a bit of our heritage. Denying your heritage would be a shame. I always identify myself as Chinese Australian. I support Australia in all sports since I came here when I was very young and don't feel a cultural connection with China. However, other people may and should be free to choose who they want to support.

I think it is a very convenient way for a lot of people to let out their everyday rage and just blame it on mass actions. Hence it wasn't only them that were fighting, they can do it because everyone else was doing it. But each person should have to justify their own actions and not lay blame onto others.

6/13/2006 7:28 PM  

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