Daily Archives: April 25, 2012

In praise of draws

This is the previous post, initially. As usual I get sidetracked, which is one reason why I suspect that I won’t ever be any good at this.

Anyway, it should be clear that I love football. And football is culturally significant, at least to a large minority of us. Football feeds on and nourishes culture, as I’ve just said below. And therefore what happens in football is important as a means of describing our lives and attitudes – equally our lives and attitudes determine our attitude towards football. Substitute rugby union, or basketball or some other sport, religion, ideology, what you will – the context is the same.

I do like other sports a lot, golf, tennis, cycling and American football in particular. I wish I was good at any one of them. However, none come close to football, and I attribute its cultural context to this. Other cultures operate in different contexts. We are told, for example, that one reason that football hasn’t taken off in the US is that (cup games apart), the Americans can’t take the prospect of a draw, or tie, as a valid result. We therefore have the ludicrous (to me) idea of “overtime” in what is essentially a league game when scores are tied. We’re told that Americans can’t abide the idea of a sporting contest that doesn’t produce a winner. For this reason the world’s second most popular sport – cricket – will never take off in the US, as the thought of five days play without a result is too much to bear.

It should be said that I was mildly devastated, again, that the New Orleans Saints couldn’t make it all the way this year, despite once again having the best offence in the NFL.

Now I was a rubbish footballer and never played to any level, but when I played I was a defender. The reason is that I modelled myself on my favourite footballer at the time, Everton and England hero Tommy Wright. I wanted to be just like him. Maybe because I took that path I looked upon not losing as equal in importance to winning. Draws are part and parcel of the game, and the tell the tale as effectively as anything else. Continue reading

The Culture of Football

It’s true that I’ve told virtually nobody about this blog. For now I’m content with that, and I’m writing mostly for myself. The intention is, however, to make it a feast of faith, philosophy and football, with a few music videos thrown in as filler.

I’m conscious that football has been somewhat neglected to date, though, so I’ll go a way to putting that right here. Indeed, football, for someone like myself and millions of others, is attractive precisely because it incorporates philosophy and faith. Let no-one say that I fail to understand the religious mindset or that I’m unfamiliar with religious experience, and the fact that most of these experiences have taken place within the confines of Goodison Park makes it any less personally relevant. We also celebrate our rituals and traditions, both individual and communal, and the idea of abandoning Everton Football Club, for me, is as unthinkable as anything. The word “s****r is as much an abomination to me as “salvation by works” is to a Calvinist. The difference is that the religious aspects of football are naturally grounded, and therefore even the most partisan football fan can see his obsession from the outside, recognise his irrationality, view it for what it is, and walk away from it when need dictates. Football fans as a rule celebrate rather than deprecate differences – there’s nothing better to start the day than a cup of strong coffee and a session of good-natured football banter. We don’t expect others to conform to our prejudices – on the contrary we appreciate them. Football, as a quasi-religion, has a lot going for it, in that its adherents see shared values in differences of value. Continue reading