Football and Humans…..

How come only Bengalis (and some part of the North East) love foot-ball while rest of the India does not?

 And all of the America hates it!!!!!

Football is probably the only team-game which is inclusive, and way too damocratic. Everyone contribution is way too important. Most of the other team-games relies on individual efforts. Our beloved, cricket also falls in same category. The performance of the team is solely (or  mostly) judged by the statistics of the prominent players. The  team success, as a unit, is highly correlated with the individual performance. Any Indian, a cricket-lover, would love to make the point that if this batsman is in form and in team, chances of the winning his team is much more than if that batsman is not in form and is in team. According to him, a single good batsman absence can play havoc on the chances of his team. My experience in cricket insinuates that this indeed is the case in most of  the cases. Not recently, Indian used to switch off the television if Sachin got out. Sycophancy comes easily to Indians and so is individual-worshiping.

But how come bengali are so obsessed? For sure, I have no idea!

In 1911 when Mohan Bagan defeated Yorkshire in soccer. And following things happened,
1. All players, save one, were playing barefoot. The only player was in shoes, probably making his point that He is not averse to adopt western technology.
2. In the growing phase of Muslim league and the increasing romance with the idea of Pakistan, It was significant that the joy was shared by both Muslim and Hindus alike.
3. The partition of Bengal was annulled.
4. The capital of India was shifted from ‘Kolkata’ to ‘Delhi’.

Too much for a win!!!

A officer of very high rank in colonial India once described ‘Bengalies’ as a ‘non-martial race’. A race ‘with the wisdom of Greeks but grit of the rabbit’. But the soccer-champions and the gun-wielding Subhash Chandra Bose had taken a toll on their belief and this brought some sort of vindication in Bengali bhadralok.

Anyway, You make out of it what you like. Lets get to the other soccer-hating country. The USA.


Soccer is at bottom in US. In a land where, ‘winner take all’ and ‘Me, myself’, and capitalism is the widespread diseases, No wonder that Golf, Tennis, Formula 1 etc takes the prominent position. Yes, of course, there is NBA, which is a team game. But if a club XYZ and won than it is sure that Mr. ABC must have score 40. Another praise for individual effort. In soccer, in real spirit, every one is given equal credit for the goal. The midfielder is as important as the striker. However, in countries like USA, they give more credit to striker than the midfielder. Thats also shows the mentality that the person who seems to do the work is more important that the person behind it. No wonder, i-pod is the creation of Steve Jobs rather that its chief-designer/engineer. The managers in USA are those who takes decision about which technology is to be used and how a product to be built rather than the technical team. Anyway, Lets leave these loose statement asides. This madness is gripping India tightly, which has enough uncured diseases from the past like tutelage of women and cast-divide. Any Indian, who likes to make the point, that it’s “Me and myself” world and ‘make money and move-on’ does not sound convincing even to himself/herself for at least he also wants praise from others. There are some remarkable and funny things about Indians. The most seclusive Indian is least-secretive. Its the generally social-Indian has the habit to make a secret out of the trivial things. The urban class, though show much sympathy to villages but somehow seems to be very reluctant for their company even for the one which looks like them. Though they are worst writer (yes, I am an Indian) they can speak for a long time, and apparently, without much use of the mind while their counterpart in Japan finds it really hard even to deliver a political speech for 5 minutes. And when they are in foreign land, they show a remarkable love for things that are Indians, even for their native-language.

And in the most prominent religion, Hinduism, the field-view and the book-view can give a sleepless life for a curious theologists.

Oops, back to football. Of course there is football in USA, they’ve given it another name. But if you have seen it, (even in Disney Goofy cartoons, “How to play football’) you might have noticed that the level of violence in this game may only appeal to a nation who had killed the largest number of civilians (from Hiroshima to Iraq, Never mind that they had won the largest number of Nobel Peace Prizes also). The soccer seems to the game for sissies if you compare it with Rugby/American Football.

The football is epitome of socialism. American football is travesty of it. The quarter-back is like a general of an army who has to be followed blindly. Others are just road-roller.

All most all of the prominent Marxist, Socialist loved soccer. Marx played it, Lenin liked it. The Latin America is crazy about it. In Africa, it is nothing less than Nirvana in their lives.

The eleven American who play this game, or the 1100 who fly with their team to watch them play or the 11000 who watches them on their TV set (which is aired in spanish, mostly, if I am not wrong), they are political dissidents. There is hope for socialism in US till football is there.

And there is hope in this world that Humanity is there in its most pristine form till there is someone out their who loves football.

PS : An article also appeared after first semifinal of FIFA 2010 in guardian newspaper. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/06/footballs-debt-socialism-world-cup

RESOURCES :
[1] This is influenced highly from “Sociology of soccer” by Ramachandra Guha. For a better and impartial accounts, read this essay.

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Author: Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

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