As I sit here on my sofa, trying to concentrate on writing whilst simultaneously watching Sweden defeat Britain in Men’s Curling (oddly, commentated on by Paula Radcliffe), I find myself wondering why the hell I care so much. I could hardly be described as a fan of my country – given the chance I would prefer to be a citizen of literally any other European country – but I find myself unable to watch England or Britain competing in a sporting event without screaming at the TV for whoever-it-is to run faster/kick it harder/hit the other guy harder (I was exaggerating about the screaming – I’m far too middle class).
Today at work, I wasted my entire day on a very passionate argument via email with a good friend of mine (Swiss), over which of our countries could really be described as the better sporting nation. It ended with us agreeing to a year long bet, with each of us being paid by the other when our country performs better in a sports event. As an anti-capitalist who is all for the abolition of tha nation state, this did not strike me as odd at the time.
To me, sport has replaced warfare as the weapon of choice in asserting one nation’s aggression towards and dominance over another. However, it seems to be something that was entirely of our own making rather than something that was forced on us… How did that happen? Stand in the wrong part of town on derby day and you’ll likely find yourself removed by the police for your own safety. The tribalism of sport is yet another thing that divides us, another obstacle to any truly unifying movement.