I don’t like the nation-state as a concept.
It’s quite a big and pervasive idea not to be happy with. But I just don’t see a need for huge divisions between people. Particularly ones that reinforce difference and inequality; encouraging an understanding of history and society from a perspective of us versus them.
The structure of national sports really does support this mentality.
Is it really a non-aggressive way to deal with a natural desire for conflict? Does anyone believe that?
I don’t see how conflict is supposed to be exorcised using boundaries and aggression, no matter how strict the rules.
The unnecessary random divisions of history cause more troubles than they solve. The nation-state is a way of dividing people who are fundamentally the same, and concentrating power on ruling classes everywhere. Systems of government based around huge structures are by their nature corrupt.
There’s a form of patriotism I don’t mind, that’s kind of more related to a sense of homeliness. I think that’s why I always smile seeing the other teams being supported by people of other nations.
On the day of the Algeria v England match, it seemed to be on everybody’s minds, but the first time I felt warmed by it was when I saw a car drive by honking and cheering, with a huge algerian flag dangling out of the window.
The roar of cheers across the city when some team I didn’t even know was playing scored a goal was heart warming. Realising how exciting and fun it must be to feel closer to your home and the people around you despite however many hundreds of miles of distance.
Then I think of England supporters wearing WW2 RAF uniforms to a match against Germany. And think we probably deserved to lose that match over and above the fact that we played dreadfully.
Sportsmanship is supposed to be a very British trait. All part of the imperialist spirit. And yet English football supporters seem to not really pay attention to the football so much as the dream of winning.
Nothing makes me more dismayed than seeing heart broken people, head in hands, after a loss. ‘We’ lost. After playing badly. To a team that played well. There’s nothing to be hurt about. The best team won.
And the whole thing is surrounded by a veil of violence. Either literal or symbolic. Historical or in the present.
It’s the RAF uniforms thing again. I don’t want to be apparently supporting a symbol of all of the history of the nation i live in. I don’t believe that England/Britain has always done the right thing in the world. I refuse to forget the enforced ‘civilisation’ of half the world by an aggressive military power and remember it as a fond heydey. (Even if I do know all the words to Land of Hope and Glory,an offensive, bombastic glamourisation of imperialism).
The irony of course, is that I’m a big fan of the cricket.
Illustration by Claire.