Is Extreme Partisanship Bad For Football?

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Seattle Sounders FC fans show their support as their team lose to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Western Conference Semifinal match second leg at The Home Depot Center on November 7, 2010 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated Sounders FC 2-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

The partisan nature of football is one of the greatest things about the sport. It gives us the chance to get behind one team, to share banter with opposing fans and feel that ecstatic high when our team wins. But do we take things too far? I am not talking about violence or poor behaviour by a minority of idiots, we all know that there is no excuse for that, but would the game be better, perhaps even more enjoyable if we all occasionally took off our team’s blinkers?

For me, one of the most frustrating elements of the modern game is the fan who never admits any failure by his own team. We see it from managers all the time but they are paid to protect players and play the mind games. We all moan every time we see football move away from being just a sport but we could all be a part of the problem.

Sport is completely unimportant. It doesn’t matter at all. Football is something that was invented as a way to pass the time between other much more important things, at its best when the balance between seriousness and frivolity is found and at its most useless when it becomes the be all and end all. By refusing to see things as they truly are we admit to seeing football as something more important than it is. Society frowns on those who blindly and ignorantly ignore simple truths. Why should football be any different?

I am as guilty as much as the next man. My natural position is to robustly defend my team even if I know that really they are rubbish or that they have made a mistake. I have seen otherwise perfectly normal, morally upright people defend actions on the pitch that would not be accepted in real life simply because the accused plays for their team. Surely this is a trait that we should all try and step away from?

Football creates debate like no other sport. Unfortunately in my experience it also fails to follow up on this promise of good discussion thanks to the proliferation of people who refuse to say a word against their team. How many arguments can you remember being ruined by someone who simply sticks to the line of argument that makes his club look good, regardless of its relationship with the truth?

How frustrating is it to see managers come out after the match and claim not to have seen a decision or that they only lost because of poor decisions and/or bad luck? I find this bad enough but coming from friends and fellow fans it is much worse. If we all just took a step back and viewed the game a little more objectively then I am certain we would all benefit. Debates would still happen but we might actually progress towards the occasional agreement and we might all regain a little bit of perspective.

After all, football is only a game, much as that may baffle a few people out there.

26 Comments

  1. Laurence November 8, 2010
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