Hate to hate
I've thrown together some thoughts. I don't want to write up 10,000 words on this. It's just some musings that may or may not make sense.
There's currently plenty of discussion on social media regarding the refugee crisis including the potential for banners at English matches. Some agree that football and politics should be kept separate. In an ideal world that would be great. Sadly football is the escapism that doesn't let you.
It would be grand to go to games and just immerse yourself with the actual kicking of the ball and avoid the brooding atmosphere draining fan expectation that controls the noise level, the boardroom disapprovals and politics of any kind, club or government. Most upper tier stadia don't have the same environment we once endured with pleasure. Not for decades. Romanticising something that many modern day supporters can't even remember isn't the best option here, mainly as you tend to forget a lot of the unpleasantness of that bygone era. Still, our current escape through the turnstiles into our plastic seats isn't great in comparison because back then it was all very accessible and gave the working class and the rest a chance to bin all the ills of the week. It actually felt different to other social activities. It felt joyfully disconnected - yet perfectly attainable and engrossing. An identifiable psychological punch-bag that took a constant beating.
Today we all live in each others minds, digitally, so the match-day experience is pretty much a packaged day out. We know exactly what to expect and how to react to it if it doesn't play out how the majority demanded. Away days are different for the ones lucky enough to frequent.
Maybe that's why we have time for the politics. We know everything thanks to being constantly wired in. This sensory overload never relents. Our comfort means we have time to formulate and over-think. Very little is instinctive, spontaneous. We have freedom of expression more than ever yet allow and accept very rigid boundaries to be placed around us and often critique something that attempts to smash through. We don't have the desire to escape from anything, we just slot from one comfort zone into another.
When you see continental clubs (German in particular) raising banners with the word 'welcome' to the men, women and children that are without country; it's a powerful message of compassion. A sense of attempting to identify with people that you don't have that much in common with unless you've lost everything and have been driven out of your home. Football is the universal language, no matter where you are from, you can pretty much relate to someone on the opposite side of the globe because of it. In this instance, it isn't an invitation to have someone move in with you. It isn't anywhere near being a dissection of all the intricacies of immigration laws, finance and impact on cultural and social foundations. It's simply a unified statement that we're all fundamentally the same yet unequivocally different. You're born. You roll with the punches.
History is littered with countless examples of repression. Persecution and war thanks to extremism and religion has pretty much been the narrative for many nations and those without compared to the lucky ones. The ones that get to bomb villages rather than flee from them. I guess our little Island is blessed to pick and choice our grievances whilst others lap up the collateral, all for the greater good while we inadvertently create new factions of threat that keeps the war machine lustful.
Let's not go there.
Need to be smoking something in the kitchen at a house party to delve deeper into this particular brand of darkness.
But it's true, we do pick and choice our grievances. When to care and when to look the other way. Elsewhere others have a choice too. Die or survive.
Considering how tribal football can be when complete strangers bind together as part of a vocal army instantly accepting the man or woman next to them because they wear the same colours - as much as politics should not be showcased from the stands, it can sometimes puncture the platform of support with a relevant jolt.
Judging by most of what I see, social media (a real-time snapshot of what people are thinking), tends to be fuelled by the strongest of emotions. Anger. It's the one that carries the most traction. It's an easy weapon for those to wave around, pistol whipping with aplomb.
Don't hold up a banner. Don't sing songs other clubs sing. Don't be gay. Don't sing in a group. Don't clap. Don't be young. Don't show compassion. Don't embrace blind faith. Don't out the tout. Hate Levy when it suits your agenda. Hate foreign coaches. Hate the Trust. Hate the players. Hate most Spurs fans. Just f**king hate.
I'd rather not.
I guess my point is, it shouldn't be the responsibility for football fans to make the banners. Yet there's something poetic about a collective with varying ethnicity, a cross section of society, making a united statement of support. It's not meant to fix any of the problems or start a social revolution. It's just an acceptance that sometimes when you roll with the punches you can still get knocked out. It's uplifting to know that someone might be there to pull you up.