Fighting In The Playground


I was listening to the radio this morning. Tuning between stations, I ended up at 5 live just after midday as the afternoon sports programme was on. I don’t know who was presenting it as I switched it off fairly quickly. Why? Well, in his introduction to the days proceedings whatever-his-name-was (possibly Ian Payne but I can’t really be sure) talked about yesterday’s match between Chelsea and QPR, where “Anton Ferdinand didn’t shake John Terry‘s hand again”. The glee in his voice as he said this made me feel both resigned and angry, and I really can’t be bothered with that, so I’ll vent and then go do something more productive.

I haven’t watched any football this season so far.  To be honest, this early in most seasons I’m usually not hugely bothered because the tables haven’t taken shape.  But this season there’s been no pull at all for me.  Maybe the Olympics and Paralympics have had something to do with this, in the same way that the 2010 World Cup had earlier helped to deepen my estrangement from football.  There’s something about “top-flight” football that seems terribly petty and childish to me now, and this whole Terry-Ferdinand thing is possibly one of its starkest illustrations. I saw it on the news last night. Think about this, a man who wouldn’t shake another man’s’ hand while they were playing a game was worthy of a place on the national news, Really? Really?

Last season, sometime during a football match, Anton Ferdinand and John Terry got into an altercation on a football pitch. And at some point during this contretemps, Terry may or may not have called Ferdinand a, “black cunt”.  If true,  it’s incredibly unpleasant, whether you think the intent was racist or not. A court seems to have sided with Terry, even if the FA haven’t to date.  Whatever the details, it was effectively a fight in a playground, with the same kind of intemperate, and ill-considered if not actually racist, language you would hear in many playgrounds  on any school day.  Yesterday, Ferdinand again apparently refused to shake Terry’s hand, nor Ashley Cole‘s because he supposedly supported Terry during the legal proceedings.  So, the playground fight has now degenerated further, to the level of, “I’m not his friend, and I’m not yours either because you like him“.  In a school you’d either force them to get along in the class or possibly separate them and minimse the disruption to everyone else. Get rid of the handshakes altogether: they’re a ridiculous pretence and anachronism in the modern game of moneyball and everyone knows it. But no, this is football and we can’t have that now, can we?

Come Sunday morning and all the football pundits can talk about is either how someone didn’t shake someone else’s hand and how awful it all is for football, or about what a few idiots decided to chant during a match yesterday. Instead of just letting them all know they’re a bunch of idiotic pissweasels and treating their attention-seeking bawling with the contempt it clearly deserves the media have taken on the role of the gang of kids who form around the squabbling children in the playground and start yelling, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”, if only to relieve the monotony of the biggest and richest kids winning all the games.  To buy into it is just to be a part of the shouting mob.

That’s not for me, thanks. I’m going to go and play something else. It’s precisely the kind of reason why I really can’t be arsed with football any more.



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