When Football Doesn’t Matter—Why Then Do We Post?

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Another post from 17HT in the wake of events beyond football.  New readers (or those confused…) please see the comments from the past two posts.

Author’s note:  The ongoing tribulations of poster “James Bond” combined with my own personal life experiences have led to the following reflections…

We live in a wondrous and modern world, and yet the essential problems remain.  Human relations have changed and yet they haven’t.   Our world (at its very best…) still revolves around Love.  If we risk love we risk losing that love.  In fact, in our heart of hearts, we KNOW that we WILL lose the object(s) of our love.   As such, it is an act of great bravery to do so—to engage with each other and give ourselves, wholly and without reservation, to one another.

The internet is a different ball of wax (as we say, over here in the States)…  If you don’t like what’s on one page, click on another…If somebody says something you don’t like, you can disappear for a few days (or forever…), gather your thoughts, and come back when you’re ready. Or (more commonly…) you can respond instantaneously from behind the safety of your screen and keyboard.    Hell, if you’ve got nobody to talk with, you can even create multiple personalities and carry both sides of the argument.  😆

Following Arsenal on the internet (for me) has shown some of the worst and some of the best elements of this new world of human communication.  No matter what, the football goes on, as does the conversation about it.  No matter what’s going on in our personal lives, we can go on-line and exult (or complain) about our team.  The usual characters–the manager, the players, the owner, the other posters– will be there for us.   With the latter group we can argue positives to the gloomiest of gloom-mongers or bring down the most positive optimist.  The important thing, maybe, is that it’s different from our day-to-day.  In many ways, it’s an extension of the old way—trudging down to the stadium and supporting (or having a go at) the lads and sharing a cheer or a moan with your mates…

And best of all…None of it matters.  Or maybe… ALL of it matters…

Here on Bergkampesque the assumption, I think, is closer to the ALL of it matters.  Yes, people come on to hate and denounce, and certainly venting happens.  Some have to be banned, others chased off.   The regulars, however, are bonded by (nothing less than some strange form of…) kinship or tribalism or shared affection for something bigger than ourselves.   To varying extents, we idealize the club, the players (when they perform to our liking), and (some of us at least…) the manager.   Certainly the player for whom the site is named conjures an ideal of intelligence and teamwork.   And the man himself pursued it with an unparalleled professionalism.  If we can bring these qualities to our support, we can (almost…) believe that we too can enhance the club.  Of course, even Dennis had his moments of frustration.  If we can forgive him his, we should likely forgive ourselves our own…

One of our own, a guy we’ve never met and whose real name we are unsure of, is going through a VERY (very, very…) tough time.  We pray that he is getting the face-to-face support and love that he needs. That he turned to us to share his experience speaks volumes.  That we’ve tried, in whatever way we can, to offer our words in return speaks to the fact that we have created an environment where that is okay.

The tragedy of poster “James Bond” has affected me.  As I said in the comments, his story hits home for me even if the memory of its immediacy is a long way back.  It’s nothing more than words on a screen, but it IS more.

Strange, but true.  It’s also true that I can switch it off and watch a match or get outside or just turn my thoughts to my own issues.  That’s human nature.  A better part of human nature is to share with others.  Pain is the flip side of Joy, and it could be argued that you cannot have the one without the other.  Our culture tries to sell us pain-free Joy, but we know (in some deep place) that the truth is different.  To the extent that Bond has shared his pain with us, I want to thank him.  Feeling it (attempting in my own small way to absorb the fullness of it) makes me a better person.  To the extent that I can help him feel less alone (and it’s a very, very, very puny extent…) in this brutal moment, I would like him to feel less alone.

The rest of the world including Arsenal and your fellow BKers are here for you, 007, whenever you’re ready… From personal experience, I know that it’s good to have places you can go that are away from the bigger issues.  This may or may not be such a spot.  You’ve shared a lot, and those of us who’ve been with you through this will always know you differently.   In my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with knowing people more completely and more deeply, even if you never meet them.

Finally, from your comments earlier, I know that you would like us to pivot back to our shared love, Arsenal Football Club.  I believe Gerry and Dylan have posts related to yesterday’s match, and I think Total will be publishing them as the week moves on.  For now, having watched some up and down matches of mayhem (I’m talking yesterday’s Liverpool-Aston Villa 2-2 and today’s wins by Spurs and Chelsea, as well as highlights of other matches, notably the Man City-Cardiff City match…) I’d like to talk a little football myself.

I’d direct people to the league table.  There’s separation there and a gap to the top 3 teams: Arsenal-51, Manchester City-50, Chelsea-49.   I couldn’t be prouder of my football club right now.  Through spirit, grit, collective play, and continuity we’re competing with clubs who have owners literally (or is it “figuratively”…?) burning money to keep warm.  Those “assembled” squads are right on our tails, point-wise, and they will be (exquisitely) tough to beat as the season grinds on, but they are nowhere near what we have created as a team.  It may seem outmoded to suggest such things, and the difference between players who cost £50 million (Torres, who didn’t even play today…) vs. those who cost €50 million (Özil) is very slight, but there IS a big gulf between players who work together as a team (and a manager who has committed HIS future to his club’s future) vs. the merely hired ones.  Maybe it’s similar to blogs that merely “tolerate” comments vs. one that is hoping to build a community of like-minded supporters of a beautiful club playing a beautiful game and where it’s (even) acceptable to believe that results (and tables) don’t always tell the whole story.  Maybe that’s why we have to write about it (even if it’s” just” in the comments, like Mr. Bond)…

So (as an aging American hipster–such as I–might say…), “Right On”….or (better yet), “WRITE ON”…007, and everybody else, on whatever topic you wish, including the title race, yesterday’s match, or the bigger issues…

By 17highburyterrace