Sunday, 16 July 2017

Insecurity as the root of books like ‘Foot Ball’

Picken’s ‘Foot Ball’ may just be the worst book I have ever glanced
Although my mother and brother believe nobody takes them seriously nor believes in proposals to make them official names, such pejoratives as:
  1. “American handegg”
  2. “American fatball”
  3. “American egg throwing”
  4. “dumball”
  5. “screwball”
used by soccer fans for gridiron, and
  1. “poverty ball” or “povertyball”
  2. “poverty futbol”
  3. “divegrass” or “diveball”
  4. “fairyball”
used by gridiron fans for soccer,

may well be more common than my relatives generally presume. I often feel that most fans of soccer or gridiron who call their sport “real football” would be willing to use pejorative names for a rival football code. Moreover, even that is not a requirement: R. Picken’s awful book Foot Ball, which is about deriding for no reason bar popularity and name not only other football codes, but almost every other sport with local popularity of a high level, simply calls soccer “football” and demands no other sport should be so called.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with my mother, who knows better than I do that abusive behaviour by soccer fans is very rarely directed against rival sports like gridiron or rugby (“thugby“), but almost always against rival CLUBS. My mother said the same thing about Collingwood Football Club fans – whose abusive behaviour she and many of her former school’s students have no doubt experienced in real life. I have never heard a Collingwood fan – though I do have minor recollections of some quite nasty ones – use “divegrass”, “poverty ball” or any similar word.

A couple of days ago, when I mentioned “handegg” – clearly the most common pejorative, very occasionally used for rugby and (Australian rules) football as well as much more commonly for gridiron – my mother said that the anger and misbehaviour in soccer fans relates to the frustration inherent in a sport with fewer than three scores per match (vis-à-vis about ten in rugby and over fifty in football). It is true, though, that people watch soccer for excitement and (Australian rules) football for much calmer entertainment because so often football games’ outcomes are predictable from a very early stage. Today, my mother said that anger and violence by soccer fans reflects not just frustration but emotional insecurity – soccer fans fear losing to rival clubs will affect their status supporting their traditional club. Often these rivalries are local and date from when European culture was divided between two classes – landlords and businessmen versus workers  – struggling for political control in on often violent manner. Hence, in order to diffuse this fear, one obtains the soccer hooliganism feared in many parts of Europe.

That insecurity is the root of violent rivalries in most team sports – and of the use of pejorative names for rival sports – makes sense. If a soccer fan (or of any other sport) be insecure that he is doing the right thing supporting his team or his sport, debasing rival teams or sports is a justification. Soccer hooligans and the book Foot Ball are just extreme results.

Occasionally I have trouble with this when I buy a record and either take too long to like it or only like it in the short term. However, I never lash out at a record I have grown to not like or find frustrating – I tend to keep my instant feelings on such issues totally silent even on the web.