Keeping my kids out of football.

I was hoping to write a less serious post today after my lamentations earlier in the week, but watching the football has changed my mind.

I love football. I’ve supported Spurs since I was a young boy back in the 80s, I remember watching the Italia 90 world cup and every one since. I’ve stood in the terraces at lower league clubs, I’ve sat in the seats of premier league sides, I’ve watched the beautiful game played out in National stadiums, and I’ve seen more football matches on tv than I can remember.

I own an array of football shirts for the teams I have followed, mostly spurs, but also England and Ireland, my home nations, and various other teams from across the world I have at some time felt affection towards. I’ve also outfitted my daughter in a spurs kit and previously a baby gro and booties set. She looks gorgeous I’m them.

However, I’m left wondering whether or not I want to share my love of football with my children.

Last night a pub in Lyon where spurs fans were drinking was attacked by a group of 50 or so Lyon fans, just because they supported the visiting team. Flares were thrown, people injured, and Nazi salutes made toward the spurs fans, a team with a long history of Jewish support. Unfortunately, this isn’t even the first time this has happened. When playing against Roma in the same competition, spurs fans were attacked in a well coordinated strike by Roma’s notorious Ultras.

To be honest this puts me off travelling to games abroad, but worse puts me off passing my love for this game on to my children. I always dreamed of taking my kids to see matches, sitting together, explaining the rules and pointing out the players, cheering for our team and sharing an experience. I’m not sure that’s something I want to do anymore. Why should I encourage my children to support a game that provides an excuse for grown men to get together and kick the shit out of someone because they wear a different colour shirt? It’s beyond ridiculous.

I think that if I encourage them toward any sport now it will be rugby, a game full of on field violence, crunching tackles, punching and stamping rife in scrums and rucks, broken bones and bloody noses more or less guaranteed. But at least they manage to keep the violence on the field, between the players who get paid to partake in it, instead of sneaking it out of the stadia and into the pubs and streets.

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5 thoughts on “Keeping my kids out of football.

  1. As I was reading this I was thinking I’d suggest rugby as an alternative. But then you did in the last paragraph. I’ve never seen nor heard of trouble in a rugby crowd. As you say, it;’s all on the field – and a lot less than it used to be. I come from NZ though so I’m prejudiced!

    I too got turned on to football by Italia 90. The first game I went to here (West Ham v Spurs) was an incredible culture shock: fights breaking out, urinating in the stands, etc. Only been twice since, both to see Brighton when I lived there; they were both great games though with no trouble. I support Newcastle, by the way: my Dad was from there.

    • When I lived in Cardiff I loved going into town on rugby days. Such a great atmosphere, everyone was in a good mood, drink flowing, songs being sung, and no violence. The football days were always to be avoided though. People pissing in the street, shouting and swearing, fighting, just madness. The worst was Liverpool v Birmingham at the millennium stadium. Half the high street was blue, half red and a thin stripe of fluorescent yellow police holding them apart.

      The main difference between the two sports though is how in football the fans are separated by fences and police, but in rugby (even internationals) the crowd is mixed and there’s still no violence! Amazing.

  2. I’d love to say it’s the tribalism of adulthood that throws people into violent action surrounding football but realistically the problem is systemic and taught on the touchlines of the little leagues.

    My eldest lad started at 6, he flew down the wings, dived around the pitch and though he was never great at shooting he loved being the guy who provided the pass that brought the goal. He stooped playing at twelve because the team became aggressive, the emphasis from the manager was certainly all about just winning and I listened in horror as one manager talked loudly about getting the kids to dive more to get the penalties to win games.

    All that wasn’t something strange, I saw it on the touchline ever week with managers shouting at the kids, parents swearing at the ref, groups of men acting like thugs and even fist fights on the touchline between idiot dads.

    We switched to Cricket and the mood and attitude were completely different, its much like the Rugby so I gather. The spectators stand together, the kids are encouraged (no matter which team they’re in) and if someone does well everyone congratulates them.

    There is a sickness in football from grass roots up. I’m sad to say I can’t see that changing.

    My kids do Karate and Cricket. All the action is on the mat or at the crease.

    Great post.

    • Thanks for the comments Edd!
      You’re spot on about it beginning early, I’ve played rugby and football from a young age and the support and atmosphere were noticeably different even to me. I’d play rugby and we’d all shake hands and applaud the other team off the field, have a snack with them afterwards and the parents were kind and encouraging. The football games were usually bad tempered affairs with no interaction between the teams and no festivities after the match.
      It’s up to us as parents to change this and prevent the next generation from becoming the next generation of thugs.

  3. I will definitely be pushing my son to play rugby when he is old enough. I have already checked out the minis section at the local club and been to watch the first XV play. The culture and atmosphere is completely different and I want to him to experience that side of sport. At my old club in Manchester I was always impressed by the bond between the players who came through the colts together and how they stood up for each other.

    I have been going off football for a while and even wrote a blog post about it *plug plug*

    http://alwaystimeforbiscuits.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/why-i-have-gone-off-football/

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