as if / Ideology / Politics / Thoughts

On Spectators

File:USA Soccer Fans (4705515039).jpg

At the end of soccer matches, you can see some people cry and others showing happiness. Does something terrible happen to you when the ball crosses this line once or twice more than that one? Does something really good happen to you in the opposite case?

In such games, people make their mood dependent on how the game is going and how it ends. One outcome: euphoria, another: depression. How does that work?

In a way, spectators are entering into a contract with themselves. The contract is to feel good or bad, depending on how the game is going. The basis of this is that you can make yourself feel good or bad. If you could not do that, you could not trigger feelings depending on the number of goals in such a game.

Actually, once your basic needs are met, how you feel is largely a matter of decision. You can decide to feel good if certain things happen. What many people do not seem to know is that you can decide to feel good and be happy even without any event to happen. The “spectator-contract” entails the risk of feeling bad if “your” team is losing. Instead, just be happy. It really works. From this perspective, the game is not necessary. I, for my part, am not interested in soccer and the like, and I consider myself a happy person, most of the time.

Another strange aspect of such games is how people identify with “their” team. The people in “your” team are very likely total strangers to you, people you might never meet in your lifetime. What happens in their life and in the games they are playing has nothing to do with you. Why bother. And why should you identify with a team just because they are from the country you are living in?

So people construct a division into groups and then assign themselves to one or somehow identify with it. If “your” sports team wins, you feel that you have won. This is an as-if-construction.  You pretend as if you belong to a certain group, as if this group is connected to a certain team and as if the result of the game is important. But isn’t that rather irrational? And doesn’t it divide us instead of bringing us together?

I fail to see the rationality of “supporting” a team just because they are from the country or city where I am living or where I was born. The concept of “national teams” is an outcrop of nationalism and I think that nationalism in whatever form is a dangerous and potentially evil phenomenon. Organizing sports events in terms of national teams is an idea we should do away with. Nationalism was a leading ideology during the time from about 1850 to about 1950, with devastating consequences, and wherever this idea is still strong, war and destruction are the result. We should really call into question if we should continue thinking in terms of “nations”. Nation-based sports events should not be continued.

When Germany won the World Championship in 1990, I remember the sound of thousands of people on the street. It was frightening. People where happy, but it was also an outburst of nationalistic feelings. Soccer and other games are big business and a lot of money is involved, but it is reinforcing, and reproducing in our children, a way of thinking we should better do away with. This kind of games do not make our societies better places. I reckon that their overall effect is rather negative. I know I am, once more, swimming against the tide here, but I think a discussion of these topics is necessary.

And just try it. Be unconditionally happy! With a little bit of practice, it really works!

(The picture is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USA_Soccer_Fans_(4705515039).jpg.)

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