As I got ready for my day today, I listened to the radio as I sometimes do. You can imagine what nearly everyone was talking about.
Several commentators remarked that “Only football can make you feel like this”. Is that really true?
Here are two headlines from popular newspapers this morning:
The Sun “Probably the best feeling in the world” (A play on words referring to the Carlsberg ads)
Daily Star “Is this the greatest dream ever?”
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not being a killjoy. I certainly don’t begrudge the fans who are feeling joy, satisfaction or elation this morning. I really hope they enjoy the experience.
Sometimes I just wish we hadn’t, as a society, learned to ‘settle’ for … well, so little.
In a world where it is now seen as normal for there to be an ever-increasing epidemic of poor mental health, meaninglessness, apathy and addictions Where the biggest killer of men under 45 is now suicide. Can’t we have a greater dream than winning the footie?
Let’s unpack the statement a bit, just for fun.
Only football can make you feel like this:
Deeper reflection quickly reveals that Football can’t make you feel anything.
Only your thinking can do that. Your stories about who you are, your beliefs, your values, what you make important, which team you happen to support, and which country you happen to have been born in. If it was football making us feel a certain way, then there wouldn’t be such a range of individual, widely varying, responses to the same football game.
We are wired for connection – and we need to belong, to be part of a group that we identify with. I get it – and this predisposition has many positive consequences, such as community, compassion (at least towards ‘us’ if not towards ‘them’). You could argue that this human trait is what’s ensured our survival to date.
But there are less desirable consequences too, one of which is tribalism, or in the case of countries, a nationalism that can start to look ugly and divisive.
And “Only football can make you feel like this”. Really?
This is the best we can aspire to as a species? Not the fact that we are the infinite creative potential of the universe? Not the fact that we are creative, conscious beings? Not the myriad of achievements, breakthroughs, profound art, music or writing throughout the centuries? Not the love-fuelled acts of courage performed by so many people throughout our history? Not the bliss of deep connection with others?
No, only football. Apparently.
I’ve heard a lot of people saying “We did it!”
In response to which I always think: Well, no. Actually YOU didn’t really do anything! You didn’t kick a ball, or score a goal. I don’t say this out loud of course – I know I’m expressing a minority view here!
I’ve been learning a lot in the last few years about the rise and fall of civilizations, or how societies collapse. It’s been well studied, and leads me to conclude this:
It wouldn’t be odd if this civilization were to collapse. It would be odd if it didn’t.
They all do. Many scholars have characterised the stages of a society – from rise to fall. Looking at these analyses, it would seem that we are in Stage 6: the final stage.
Interestingly, one of the features of this stage is that the populace become obsessed with and hero-worship – wait for it – sports, celebrities, entertainers and musicians. Ring any bells?
Previous societal collapses throughout history have all been relatively local. There are two big differences this time:
- Planetary overshoot
It seems ironic to me that this victory happened in the same week as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passed through Parliament and was made into law. (5th July 2021) This gives the police sweeping new powers, and essentially means our right to peaceful protest is under threat.
Because we must not have anyone disrupting the lawful business of destroying the planet and sacrificing the lives of millions (billions?) for the profit of a few.
Maybe that should have been front-page news this morning? It seems sad to me that the vast majority of British people either don’t realise this has just happened, or don’t much care.
Come on, England!