Monday, April 04, 2011

Men Behaving Disastrously

So many of our top, incredibly-well-paid football stars are just irredeemable, working-class thugs to whom evolution has dealt a fortunate survival trick - skill with a ball.

I understand that playing on the edge of anger can make you really sharp but if you have no self-control switch fitted as standard - cf Wayne Rooney, Joey Barton et al then you are going to get in trouble sooner or later.

Rooney's Saturday outburst into a camera on live TV at lunchtime was worthy of discipline.

I was a reasonable footballer (in fact aged 13/14 I was very good and with coaching may have got much better) but heeded family advice not to pursue it as a career. I didn't thereafter play regularly enough to keep up.

I was fiercely competitive and put myself about. I was booked and sent off. But never for abusing a referee. I was one of those weird players who didn't appeal for every decision. I did once get a bit cross when a linesman told one of my colleagues 'He's not appealing for it' as evidence that the throw-in couldn't be in my favour. The linesman was wrong but I didn't complain, that's all. They do notice and interpret it against you.

I did accept the fact that I had a choice. When Paul Robinson and Lee Dixon on Match of the Day 2 last night said that at the end of the day (they really said that) it was boys being boys even if it was multi-millionnaires on a stadium pitch they said, in effect, that this would not stop. Then they offered the suggestion that three or four sendings off per game would soon change things.

Clearly the 'Respect' campaign has been a load of offal. If anything respect has got less likely. A bad foul sees confrontation and harrassment of refs for a red. A coming-together sees everyone piling in, inevitably.

Just watch the way blokes of a certain age and hair style pile in to a barney in a pub and take sides. You are seeing human nature in all its fallen ugliness. Those pictures of the guys following the police van of the alleged Swindon murderer were not wanting to wait for the decision of a court. Lynch mobs self-generate.

If they are serious about fixing football then they may end up editing out ordinary blokes. Let's see what happens if we say:
  • Anyone running more than 20 metres to join in an on-pitch brawl will be sent off.
  • Anyone joining in a conversation with a referee that one player is already having will be sent off.
  • Anyone approaching an assistant referee for any reason will be booked.
  • Anyone joining in a brawl and not facing a player of his own team will be sent off.
A few matches will, as Dixon said, have to be abandoned in the early days of this. It may settle down. It may also mean that more young players of a different disposition may try to play.

Football is at a hinge-point.


Chris Pettifer said...

I've recently started watching NBA Basketball again. It's taking a while to pick up on some of the tweaks to the officiating and rules, etc, but one thing I did notice in one game (and the commentators explained for me!)... A player can get a technical foul simply for showing displeasure at a decision, through his body language... throwing an arm or something like that (if that action makes sense?). This would give the opposition a free throw and add to the player's personal foul count for the game. It seems to me that the players are really pretty good and showing restraint a lot of the time during games. It sets a really great example and makes any outbursts stand out more and then the punishment for such outbursts make sense (technical fouls / ejections from the game etc).

Revsimmy said...

Football - a game for gentlemen played by hooligans. How (sadly) true!

BobYallup said...

Whilst I would have to agree with most of what you have to say regarding footballers, I do feel that the use of the phrase "Just watch the way blokes of a certain age and hair style pile in to a barney in a pub and take sides." a little too stereotypical and judgmental for my taste.

Anonymous said...

@BobY: which stereotype don't you like: the young guys with buzzcuts, the late-middleaged mullet-wearers, the blokes who did National Service and never forgot how to have a good brawl, or the several varieties of cab driver? (just to name four types of men I've witnessed in barfights or emerging therefrom.) Wayne Rooney constructs his masculinity on shagging, football, and bad behaviour, and one of those actions apparently excuses the other two, for a lot of other men, at least. And as most men don't play footy at his level, a good few of 'em think emulating everything else about him, incl hairstyle, is almost as good. Innit.

BobYallup said...

@Anon: I think you missed my point. It is not that I don't like any stereotypical group in particular, it is simply the fact that stereotyping, judgmentalism and Christianity don't go together well.

St said...

Bob. Thanks for joining in. I think on reflection you are right. I was a bit lazy with my hyperbole. If I'd said 'some blokes of a certain age...' I'd probably have been less of a rude generaliser. Cheers.