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September 28, 2009 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Different worlds, different sports

As an Englishman, I sometimes find it quite difficult to relate to you Kiwis. In my home country and my national sport there’s been uproar in recent weeks after Manchester City’s win over Arsenal, or more specifically, after Emmanuel Adebayor’s first game against his former club.

Wearing the sky blue of Man City, Adebayor kicked his former teammate Robin van Persie in the face with his studs, an incident that wasn’t spotted by the referee but has cost him a three match ban. Not only that, it has seen him called pretty much every name under the sun by every non-City football fan in the UK, and around the world.

That’s fair enough, isn’t it? He kicked a fellow human being in the head, on purpose, with clear intent to cause harm. Kicking someone in the head can be a very dangerous thing to do, especially while wearing football boots with metal studs. Hell, he could have killed him. What makes it worse of course is that van Persie was his teammate up until just a couple of months before the incident.

I’m sure many of you reading this are members of a sports team, or any other sort of team for that matter. It’s a pretty special thing, and it creates strong bonds between people, even where they would not necessarily otherwise form. I recently spent a weekend in Nelson on tour with my football team, guys whom I didn’t know particularly well. Now I count many of them as among my best friends, and certainly wouldn’t kick them in the head, even if next year I decided to play for a different team.

To stamp on someone, then, is a pretty terrible thing to do. And yet, on Saturday night, I saw some of the rugby match between New Zealand and Australia and it seemed to me that when the players weren’t stamping on, punching, wrestling with or generally assaulting one another the referee kept blowing his whistle so as to give them more opportunities to engage in such activities.

Even more bemusing to me though was that I knew that a large percentage of the country who were watching the game that night would love nothing more than to be out there wearing black. Don’t get me wrong, I get that patriotism, and it’s great, it’s one of my deepest desires to play football for England. But I see nothing appealing in being out there, taking a beating from those massive blokes.

Of course I’m aware of the stereotype in this country that paints footballers as soft, diving pansies, but that isn’t the case. I play football and like most people who do so I despise the idiots who fling themselves around so lightly. I’m also a pretty physical player and enjoy little more than a good crunching tackle, but I really, really wouldn’t fancy a game of rugby. That doesn’t make me any less of a man though.

It just identifies me as a member of a completely different culture that has different values and different stimulants when it comes to sport and entertainment. The really interesting thing is that out of the country that is in uproar about a kick to the face and one that loves little more than a good ruckus, I’ve found that the latter is a far more peaceful and harmonious place to live.

It seems that violence, is an unavoidable part of human nature, and so perhaps it is best left on the sports field. However, having split my life between these two different worlds the idealist in me still pines for one that combines the best of both, where no one gets stamped on. Until then, I’ll stick to football thanks; I like my face the way it is.


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