Our Gerrard who art in Anfield
by OWAIN GLYN EVANS
I’m currently writing a dissertation based on the premise that football is like religion. I thought I’d write some of my ideas within this blog in a more liberating fashion to keep me from going insane through the academic style in which I am slowly destroying my passion for the sport. Although, I highly doubt that that will ever happen.
The theory is that both football and religion function and operate as a belief-system for fans as individuals and for fans as a group. For example, the fan is ‘christened’ or ‘baptised’ by his family into the way of fandom, the fan ‘devotes’ himself to a team and ‘worships’ his team within a ‘congregation’ at the ‘cathedral’, etc. I have not always thought of football in as direct an interpretation but I cannot doubt that I have always treated it in the same way as I have Christianity, donning my Liverpool jersey like a would a crucifix, reading the LFC annual like I would the Bible.
For me, football always has and always will be like religion, but for others, atheists, it is, unfortunately, not the same.
I have never minded those who don’t enjoy football as much, but have appreciated it as something that others do, agnostics perhaps. After all, nobody likes everything. I don’t enjoy a cricket match or ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. That’s fine, and so is not following football. Of course it is, as long as you leave it at that. What I have never understood or appreciated are those who abhor football, those who claim it is ‘pointless’, those who revel in a disgust for a game which they perceive to be ‘twenty-two pansies falling over a ball and crying when they touch each other’. What’s the point in that?
Football is a brilliant sport. Not only does it offer individuals a recreational activity, or an exercise but it also encourages a positive way in which society can congregate, converse, celebrate, and comfort one another in a society and a world where we cannot always perform in so positive and constructive a way. Far more importantly to me however, and indeed to others in a similar position, is the way that people as individuals can identify with their sport, or their chosen team, in so great a manner that it is often unrivalled by other ways of life, such as religion. Indeed, to me, Liverpool is so huge a part of my life that if I couldn’t follow them, my life would be far worse for it.
Of course, as with everything, there are exceptions to this. Hooligans and thugs are those whose barbarism can destroy a game that so many hold so dear. Yes, you can bring this up as support for your hatred but I challenge you to think of another way of life which is not tainted by a minority whose anger, or misdirected passion, brings it down to a disagreeable base. Islam, a religion based on principles of peace and harmony, is tainted by those whose hatred breaks the foundation of such a virtuous religion.
Football is brilliant, I will never leave it and it will never leave me. I love football; I love the game, the fans, the players, the stadiums, the chants, the teams, the flags, the face paint, the ball, and the whistle. I love it all, but you don’t have to. Just don’t hate it.
Don’t knock it, yeah?