Friday, February 04, 2011

Football takes a kicking

A remarkably annoying piece on the New Statesman blog titled 'How on earth can lefties like football?' by Helen Lewis Hasteley:

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't believing in equality a key part of being a leftie? So how on earth does anyone square this with supporting football -- a game in which women are nothing more than baubles, gay people apparently don't exist and money is thrown about in a way that would make Gordon Gekko blush?

Football is a man's game -- women aren't really welcome, unless they're wearing a low-cut top or serving the drinks. Never mind Andy Gray and Richard "Do me a favour, love" Keys implying that even women specifically trained for the purpose can't understand the offside rule -- what about the Soccerettes prancing round in their skimpies? What about the female commentators chosen for their cup size rather than their expertise?


Aside from immediately bringing to mind the thought that the very term "leftie" should be banned forthwith the article seems to miss a few crucial points.

Much of the criticism of Keys and Gray came from within the game, particularly from fans for whom Sky's sexism in its choice of presenters has long been a source of derision.

But the arguments set out are based on top flight football and probably football since the Sky revolution of 1992 at that.

The author chooses to ignore football's long and important social history or the continued travails of clubs where money doesn't grow on oligarch's yachts.

Certainly inclusiveness is an issue the game has faced in the past and continues to face today. On homosexuality, for example, football's record and approach has been shameful.

But things are changing and most fans welcome those changes as much they are uneasy about the money being lavished on top stars at top clubs.

It's also odd that a "leftie" should be so critical of rich young footballers while making no mention of the wider societal issues that might leave these young men ill equipped to cope with the fame, money and pressure that comes their way.

And it misses the point that the beauty of watching football, having an emotional involvement however irrational that might be, is that the game at its fantastic best is an incredibly communal experience.

One that you can enjoy, endure or celebrate whether you are a leftie, a rightie or a turn-right-aboutie.

Full post and some good comments available at New Statesman

Left Back In The Changing Room has an excellent post on football's problems with homophobia

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