Even for those who enjoy their job (and I do) the end of the working week and a little earned R and R cannot come soon enough; but what to do with this extra time? Read? Go fishing? Walk the dog? These are all good, pleasant and relatively harmless pastimes. They are certainly enjoyable, and stress free. So why, therefore, do so many of us put ourselves through the pain and torture of following our sports teams?
Regardless of the sport – and there are a vast number covered in devoted media, with newspapers and television channels, Internet sites and blogs giving wall to wall coverage – countless numbers of us commit almost marriage-like to our team.
We stick with them, and their overpaid, often underachieving “athletes” through thick and thin. We endure the many lows and ride the all too infrequent highs. Well, true fans do; we all know those turncoats who will drop their team faster than a hooker’s knickers in the hunt for glory, but they dare not call themselves real fans. A true supporter inherits or chooses their team from the off and are with them for life.
Whether the sport is played on Saturday, Sunday, Monday nights (or whenever the TV stations deem fit) for how many months of the year the season runs, sport is in many ways the new church, and boy, do we ever suffer for our sins.
Sometimes, however, things can go too far. Rivalries of a sporting nature can be fierce but in all honesty, these all revolve around a game. Nationalism, city and historical disputes, alcohol and religion added to the mix and it all gets a bit serious.
“Sledging” (verbal goading), exchanges of chanting and vitriol can be serious enough but violence and even maiming and death (threat or actual) to a fellow human over the matter of a pastime? Too much, but take for example, the incident reported in North East England this current season between two local rival soccer teams (aren’t they so often publicized and found to be the worst?) when a travelling “fan” fuelled by alcohol and the encouragement of the rest of his tribe, confronted by a mounted law officer, gave the horse a right hook. This may sound amusing (if I’m honest the image of someone trying to KO a horse is funny) but the reality of a man punching an animal that has no choice to be there nor has offended anyone in anyway is disgusting, whatever you look at it.
Sure, at the end of the week, kick back, relax and enjoy yourself. Follow your team in person or in spirit. Support and encourage. Friendly banter is fine if in the right spirit, but let’s remember people, we are human beings, not animals, and are meant to be superior-minded. After all, it’s only a game, isn’t it?