Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oh do please stop going on

Did anybody notice how many medals Mother Theresa won at the Olympics, or how Jesus did in kayak slalom event? I only ask because for some reason in the post Olympic naval gazing that seems to be gripping the nation it would appear that our professional Premier League footballers suddenly have a duty of care to both themselves and the spectators to be angels for the nine months of the 2012-13 season that kicks off on Saturday.

Football is a completely different environment, both for the spectator and the person playing. An example of how sport away from football can break down barriers was the Tour De France. Yes there have been some incidents of the French not liking our success at either the Olympics or the TDF but in Paris on the final Sunday there were French, Norweigians, Canadians and Americans cheering the British riders and even joining in the singing of GSTQ - partly to drown out the caterwauling of Lesley Garrett. L'Equipe had nothing but praise for the British riders during the final week of the race, I have two of the front pages framed on the wall at home and both are praising Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish to the hilt.

The Olympic spectators were partisan first and foremost, which is what you would expect given the location of the games, but they were also well behaved (apart from one idiot) and also appreciated the effort put in by all athletes - witness the cheering of the female Saudi athlete in the 800m and the biggest cheer of the games was for Usain Bolt. You very rarely get that in football because of the tribalism. The Olympic events are still largely regarded as amateur affairs, which is a bit silly given that possibly only the boxers are true amateurs. The fact the Wiggo can earn over £1 million from Sky a year and Cav earns upwards of £2 million is forgotten because, Americans excepted, none of those taking part where being paid for the medals they won at the time they won them, but don't for a minute think that Jessica Ennis advertised tampons for free or that Victoria Pendleton let somebody place her on a  racing bike in a gold dress because she had nothing better to do one afternoon.

Behaviour on and off the field at football matches in this country is different to any other sport and you need a lot more time and money invested than that which produced 29 gold medals to begin to understand why. You'd also need a bit of time to ask cricket and rugby union fans to explain why it is that apparently only football players are guilty of dissent and yet barely a test series goes by without a player being fined for visibly challenging an umpires decision or why it is that rugby scrum halfs spend most of their eighty minutes asking the referee if he is sure he's made the right decision. Scrum halfs make me smile because they always end a question with the word 'Sir' - thereby combining possible dissent with good old fashioned manners, and they get away with it.

Football will always be that way and other sports will do things there way. Perhaps football is actually a better reflection of where society should be rather than where it shouldn't. I mean wouldn't it have been good to have heard somebody shout at Phillips Idowu "You useless piece of crap, four years and thousands of pounds later and you still aren't ready." Or perhaps not.

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