Saturday, 1 March 2008

The Enigma Game

Football and sociology go together like two peas in a pod.

Sociology gathers philosophical and cultural evidence and relies on themes and occurrences in a society to explain human behaviour.

How does one describe human behaviours when only a billion or two watch 22 people on a field of grass running round in various circles while trying to chase a globular object? Every four years the globe is caught by football fever and the young dream of playing on this international world stage to incredible receptions of passion, excitement, and unbelievable disbelief.
It's an enigma
Yet, why is it so endemic, what makes it so universal? Why do people become utterly absorbed by it to the extent where we see an out-pouring of national pride where in other circumstances we would not see? In South-Korea the scenes of millions on the streets of Seoul were unforgettable. Apart from the most obvious reasons like drama and excitement, it is a sociological enigma. One cannot deny the cross-cultural popularity of it, the healing power of it and the way in which it absorbs itself into the centre of any culture and produces talented players who go on to become superstars and ambassadors for their countries.

This sport can serve as a doorway of escape from poverty or crime for a talented youngster with a well developed left- or right foot.This social phenomenon is replicated in almost every other sport too. It might have been a comedy but 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham, the story of a young British Hindu who faces the anger of her Asian community for playing football had real positive messages and demonstrated several social comments about its place in the world and society‘s attitude to football. Panahi’s Offside presented us with questions about personal identity about a story of a woman who disguises herself as a man at a footy stadium in Tehran, which is now in fact, unnecessary.

To the 32 countries from every continent participating in this festival there is immense pride and prestige, and the impact of international recognition in what can be an advertising masterstroke.

This it seems could be the tonic, a tonic that allows many to forget the routine of daily life in a ritual of spectatorship that acts as a conduit or a spiritual magnet for communities to come together.

It doesn’t matter if you hate football, it’s the immense social phenomena of seeing disparate persons from Tobago, Slovenia and Korea sharing a point of communication that all understand, that is fascinating to see.