Sport Sex and Silence
In a 2015 article for “Africa is a country” Sean Jacobs argued “the scorn of many conservative intellectuals comes from their conviction that soccer worship is precisely the superstition people deserve.” He adds “in contrast, many leftist intellectuals denigrate soccer because it castrates the masses and derails their revolutionary ardor.” Continuing with the ideas of Neil Postman, Guy Debord and Aldous Huxley, he highlights “bread and circus, circus without the bread” where the masses are “hypnotized by the ball, which exercises a perverse fascination [as] workers forget who they are and let themselves be led about like sheep by their class enemies.”
There were few better examples of this then the transfer fiasco. The EPL window officially closed at 23:00 BST on Monday, 5 October. I did not follow a single rumour as I have no interest in gossip. George Subira for example claimed men should avoid the football back pages and jump to the financial sheets of the paper, The Stock Market. There is an abundance of technical insight and tactical appreciation with regards to football. People know the titles their clubs have won, their transfer targets, coaching philosophy, loaned players and academy prospects but can say nothing of the club hierarchy or management structure. Science is increasingly being used to study sport but when do spectators use it to study the finance of sport?
In his “Technical Analysis of the financial markets” John J Murphy attempted to apply science to studying stocks. Imagine if all the time football fans invest in sports was applied to an understanding of finance. Imagine if spectators knew more about the club hierarchy than they did their club’s playing styles. Ask any punter and they can name the coach of every club but how many can name the board of the directors; the CEO, The general manager, The vicepresident, The managing director? How comes these people know everything about the club other from and other than the business side of it, and yet the majority of these people are still poor?
In The Culture of Narcissism, (1979) Christopher Lasch contributed a chapter on sport. He flays the “bland regimen of co-operative diversions” claiming they were being made into spectacles undermining excellence and the athletic experience. He also complained about the ways in which sporting events to promote political ideology rather than performance appreciation th which an audience is diverted towards sensationalism. He, did not, according to Laurie Johnson despise sports; he saw play as important. If anything, of our play becomes a retreat from reality, and a planned escape in a reactionary manner, these games will not help us. They become deeply problematic. They detain us from engaging with reality and it’s immediate demands.
Current Manchester City (EPL) Chief executive, Ferran Soriano, was Finance Director of FC Barcelona (LaLiga). He is also CEO is NYCFC(MLS) and Melbourne City FC (A-league) Ian Ayre is the CEO of Nashville SC of Major League Soccer and a former chief executive officer and main board director of Premier League club Liverpool. I have a feeling no one watched those transfers. It’s as if all of this emphasis on the external is to divert from the internal happenings of these sports. They have no concern and may be they shouldn’t be. Sport is about fantasy not engagement and most fans are not interested in this other life; they prefer to live through these people. Not every waking moment need who be geared towards productivity; it’s a shame athletes are no longer be permitted to experience this.
In his most famous work “American Life in the Age of Diminishing Expectations” Lasch foresaw this decline in content quality and character of thought, itself replaced by a growing emphasis on ineptitude. He died in 1994 before these external personas of o like platforms came to dominate our interests. Endless freedom, this idea of keeping all options open meant many failed to move towards purposes freedom. Avoiding commitments keeps people in suspense rather than engagement. Likewise being flooded in electronic and digital means of accessing and archiving sports, it’s almost as if there is no longer an appreciation of the real, just a distortion of it.
In June 2008 comparing Zidane to Rivaldo, Rob Smyth wrote that “the cerebral genius of Zidane, nonetheless, makes him the ultimate fantasy footballer, whereas Rivaldo was the ultimate Fantasy Footballer.” He remarked that
“the suspicion remains that some appreciate Zidane without knowing exactly what they’re appreciating; that they are perpetuating a discourse for fear of being seen as a philistine.” In football this idea even extends to the debate between Maradona and Pele. This mystical and metaphysical element of football is the intrigue drawing many to the changing room rather than the boardroom studying developmental charts rather than financial spreadsheets. Entertainment is an escape; the facts fail to flatter, they fall for fairytale and succumb to spectacle.
“If Maradona is football’s god” wrote Sean Jacobs “then Eduardo Galeano wrote the beautiful game’s holy book.” He authored classics such as Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World (1998) and Days and Nights of Love and War (1978) which inspired Crimethincs Days of War, Nights of Love (2001.) About Maradona he would recount that “it was impossible to live with the responsibility of being a God on the field but from the beginning he knew that stopping was out of the question. ‘I need you to need me’ he confessed after many years of living under the tyrannical halo of super human performance. Swollen by cortisone and analgesics and praise, harassed by the demands of his devotees and by the hatred of those he offended”.
In ‘Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life’ Alex Bellos speculated that “while Brazilians put Pele on a pedestal they do not love him the way they love Garrincha. Garrincha symbolised playing for playing sake […] It is because Pele does not reflect national desires Pele above everything else symbolises winning. Brazil is not a country of winners. It’s a country of people who like to have fun.” Galeano interrogated this further suggesting that “maybe its because a flawed genius is someone we can more easily empathise with
Maradona is one of us. Or maybe it’s because his fallibility still leaves room for speculation.
Pele had become everything he could possibly have been but for Maradona the question still lingered ; even after his myriad [of] successes in the game, what could he still have become.”
You can’t predict that.
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