I couldn’t resist writing this post in advance of the General Election. I am not particularly political but I do believe in certain values with regard to fairness, community and opportunity for all. Something I believe my own club stands for.
I believe football is reflection of our society. Back in the day where football was the only game in town and where the working class roots of the game meant everyone played. There was, literally, nothing else. The shipyards and mine’s were dominant and players fought their way out of these ‘hard’ industries to make it to the professional game. The fans could recognise their heroes as being one of them.
Today it is very different. Big Premier league clubs are the superpowers of our society. They promise trickle down economics as the outputs of capitalism but how much of it reaches the grassroots level? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Sadly, equality, altruism and concern for your neighbour have bitten the dust in favour of greed, individualism and asset accumulation.The religion of the day is to pray at the altar of the City.
Our game has been sold to the Captains of Capitalism. The respected coach, John Davies, has warned of this for years. Big business has taken over by selling fancy boots at £200, sugary drinks, fast food which all do nothing to make players better. They sell a dream. A dream that can never be achieved using their products. How we need to strip it back, minimalise and get to the roots of our character and spirit. To quote Tyler Durden from Fight Club:
“I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war… Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
So, is our game leading or following the ways of our society? The mega-clubs get richer and compete for the most valuable assets while poorer ones fight over the scraps or worse. Countries like mine yearn for the days when they were able to play on the world stage. I am one of a declining generation who can remember when Scotland regularly qualified for World Cups and Euro Championships. Now we are a 3rd world nation trying to kid ourselves on we are a player in the world.
We will never be a superpower – FACT. So why don’t we learn from other similar sized countries. Why can’t we try a different economic approach? Why can’t we have a different social structure. Why can’t we rise and ‘be a nation again’ as the song goes? We can’t because we are little people who fear breaking out the existing paradigm. We fear the unknown. We fear it will affect us individually. We fear the fear! The system encourages us to be compliant and fearful. We are trapped in the current system through debt. How do we hope to break out if we continually owe to others. Just like our football! We play with fear. “Get rid”; “Kick it long”; “Don’t take any chances”; “Nothing fancy” It is much easier to do as you are told rather than question the system that you are in. I admit questioning the system is seen as too hard. Particularly when in debt, mortgaged to the hilt but we must try and break this paradigm.
There is one antidote to all this fear. It is HOPE. I hope one day to live in a fair, just society where everyone has a chance to make something of themselves. Where everyone can play a part in their community. Where we move from independent to inter-dependent. Where Scotland qualifies for a major championship! Ok, that might be taking it too far.
Maybe we should look over the North Sea at our Nordic cousins. They have changed both their political system and football pedigree by focussing on community and a fairer society. A possible model for us to learn from?
There is no doubt we live in a capitalist society and our football clubs reflect this. Is there a different model for our football clubs and is there a different model for our society. I live in hope on both fronts. As this season and parliament ends, let’s look forward to a new, fresh start and build solid foundations based on values, respect, honesty and concern for our fellow humans.
Hopefully when you cast your vote it is not done with fear but with HOPE. Let’s stop playing defensively; get on the front foot; attack with passion. This is ours and our children’s future. Now is not the time to play with 5 at the back and park the bus. We need to play expansively. We need to have hope that one day I am once again proud and to be part of a great community both on and off the park.
Whatever your political leanings, at least have a say in the outcome of the game and vote with your heart and soul. We will leave a legacy in some way, let’s make sure it is one of hope for our children.