October 11, 2006

Thinking about Football

Sports Journalism seldom provides much more of an insight into the world than a medical bulletin on somebody's foot or the analysis of a passage of play, yet sport in many ways is a fascinating subject for students of politics. Here we have thousands of human beings bound together for a couple of instants in a common cause with common hatreds and common loves. Perhaps most interestingly the focus with sport gives can allow the expression of feelings which in other circumstances would be transmitted into other modes of behaviour- sport as the true opiate of the masses.

See for example today, Phil Ball's article on Spain which shows how Spanish nationalism and regionalism can be discussed in football terms- how its important for Spanish nationalism to realise that another game was played alongside Spain's game on Saturday, between Catalonia and Euskadi (the Basque Country) and that second game got more of an audience than any other international that Saturday bar England versus Macedonia. Mr Ball is right- the attendance and the interest and the history of those teams reflect the divided nature of Spain and the fact that unlike Scotland or Wales they aren't full international teams, reflects the bloody reality of Spain's regional history over the last hundred years.