non fantasy-fantasy football league

It is such hard work for me to get my head around the fact that Christianity is really real and not some type of fantasy that floats around silently in my head.
If it isn’t something that I can pick and choose at depending on my mood,  if it is reality then that should colour all areas of my life which means that it has consequences for what it means to follow football or support Tottenham Hotspur

My love of football isn’t something that I can relegate to relaxation or harmless entertainment, much as I love zoning out in front of a match or talking about things on Facebook.
These are real men chasing a ball around a real football ground in a real city somewhere in the world. This game isn’t happening on TV, it is happening in real life. There are consequences. I choose to invest my time in watching a game instead of doing something else. My emotions can be lifted or cast down which might put me in a great mood or a grumpy mood. That mood might have consequences for my wife or the person in the shop who I might be grumpy with.

Tonight on my way into Galway I bumped into a lady from our church who said that she wouldn’t be able to go to home group tonight. I told her that I wouldn’t be at home group either as I was off to the pub to watch the Spurs vs Manchester City.

I don’t feel any particular sense of guilt of going to the pub and don’t think I sinned by having a pint of Stormy Port at the bar instead of cup of milky tea here.

However, there is a sense that my addiction to football might not be particularly healthy.
Way back in the summer I thought that this would be the season when I finally had enough of football. The  money involved in Gareth Bale’s transfer seemed to be immoral to me. How can one man be valued at so much? There is the whole business of television rights, and teams changing kits and the diving or players being mercenaries.

I was talking to a Brazilian student on Sunday  morning and she was saying that many people in Brazil are angry at the amount of money being spent on this years world cup when it could be used for so many other things.
FIFA seem like a creepy money making machine with all the money from advertisers and official partners.

But I haven’t time to go into all the complexities of that tonight  as its late and I don’t know enough about it.

Spurs got beaten by a very impressive looking Manchester City team who are playing very attractive, attacking football.  This famous quote from Danny Blanchflower comes to mind:-

“The game is about glory. It’s about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”

There has been a touch of glory in the way City have been playing this season.

But where does glory fit into things such  as links to oppressive governments and human rights abuses?
Can we separate our support for a team from our support for the chairman?

Maybe I’ve got a case of sour grapes for if Spurs had won tonight I doubt I would have been writing this blog.   We’re owned by a billionaire tax exile so I’m not sure that I can take the moral high ground either.

At the start of the season I  said wasn’t going to get into football, but gradually I’ve become addicted.
Mainly it is because I have been lonely and getting into football has given me a reason to get out into Galway and meet people in a way that I find comfortable and enjoy.
I can admire the weight of Kun Aguero’s finish for City’s first goal or enjoy the tactical thinking from the managers and debate what is wrong with the Spurs midfield.

There is a dark side as well though.
I don’t know how to feel about the race for winning and getting the Champions League which is the race for money and power.  The old idea of clubs playing for glory seems to have gone and now teams  seem to  be more like brands looking for customers and new markets. Football clubs seem to be primarily about branding and selling themselves to the global market rather than any old fashioned notions we have of ‘glory’.

If I don’t like using Amazon or Tesco because of the way they have concentrated power to make money, why should I tolerate it with the teams I support?
If I try to buy local with my vegetables or am concerned about Fair Trade coffee why should my attitude to a football club be any different?

Should I try supporting my local football team instead of the global brands?
If I am concerned that farmers get paid fair wages for growing bananas should be concerned that people building football stadiums in Qatar for World Cups aren’t treated like slaves?

Danny Blanchflower might have said its about the glory, but it is more about the brand and money these days.  I’m not sure where that leaves me as a supporter or as  Christian.

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Christian / Bale

Part of me feels deeply uncomfortable about supporting and watching football.
I’ve especially been feeling it this summer when the team I’ve supported all my life (apart from a brief flirtation with Everton), Tottenham Hotspur stand to make a lot of money from selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
I started reading a book this morning and the mention of Real Madrid in the opening pages made my ears stand up.

‘Despite all the liberal rhetoric about “equality,” who in the world of the media or the academy really believes that the life of a Nepali peasant, say, is as valuable as that of a Hollywood actress or a football star? Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005, killing about 1,300 people, generated forty times more Western print coverage than Hurricane Stan that killed more than 1,600 people in Guatemala a month later. On the same day that the second earthquake struck El Salvador, a soccer game was played between Real Madrid and Lazio. The combined market value of the players on the field was $650 million, slightly less than half of what it took to rebuild the entire physical infrastructure after the earthquake. The press reported the value of the soccer players with enthusiasm bordering on veneration.’

Subverting Global Myths, VInoth Ramachandra

According to this table the combined value of the men who kick a ball around for our entertainment and pleasure in the English Premier League is well over £3,000,000,000. This is not for life or death stuff remember, it is only a game.

Just one of those players, Gareth Bale could be worth over £80,000,000.

Players have this value as well because people like me all over the world watch football and talk about it all the time. Individuals like me do Fantasy Football League or buy football shirts.
So I think that I have a part to play in the valuation of Gareth Bale for a world record fee and I’m not sure how that sits with me as a Christian.

missing Facebook day 1

Well day one on Facebook Lent was easy except for the fact that I want to log on right now and shout about Spurs reaching the quarter finals of the Champions League, especially now that North London arch rivals Arsenal have exited the competition at the hands of Barcelona. Not that I enjoyed Arsenal exiting because there is something slightly smug about the Barca set up and their philosophy. And Messi is frankly too good. So it would have been nice for Arsenal to have made it through and meeting then beating them in at the Wembley.

Yet here I am a lonely Spurs fan who can’t even stick up a status update on Facebook and have JM like it as a my only fellow Spurs fan on one of our best nights. You know you aren’t really aristrocrats of European competition when you are shouting about a quarter final, yet its the best moment I remember over 30 years of supporting Spurs.

Let see what happens next eh?