Ignorance is not bliss
Fan. Connoisseur. Disciple. These are the things I would consider myself to be before a football journalist. I wrote an article a month or so back where I called out the mainstream media on its inciting comments in the wake of an article which demonised those who called the sport soccer.
But if we were shown one thing in the last few days, it’s that ignorance is not always bliss, as in three cases over the last week.
The first involved Tom Elliot, a so called ‘afternoon expert’ on Melbourne radio station 3AW, who originally incited fans with this beauty:
The fact is, soccer is a dull, boring game. It is the only thing that explains why such bad behaviour doesn’t happen at AFL or NRL matches.
It’s just soccer, because it’s a dull game. That’s the explanation.
Like most football fans I sat there going “yeah, yeah” – we’ve seen it all before from the AFL boo boys. But then Elliot went on in his program later to compare the Hillsborough disaster to a case of football violence, and used it to fuel his misguided point on crowd segregation.
When prompted for an apology, none was forthcoming.
If that didn’t fuel a fire in the belly of football fans, the actions of two media entities, in response to the 170 seats pulled out of Etihad Stadium on the weekend, surely did. In Perth, on Nova 93.7′s Facebook page, stood a status that read:
Rogue soccer fans have been condemned after 170 seats were destroyed and flares discharged at the A-League derby between Victory and Heart.
We want to know: Are there any fans worse than soccer fans?
The irony of this is that Nova 93.7 and its sister stations around the country have strong ties with several A-League clubs, however it seems the Facebook admin rights were handed to the work experience kid. It’s this derision, this stereotyping, that divides the sports – we in no way incited the code wars, nor do we fuel it.
‘Soccer fans’ are fans of AFL as well, and at many local clubs the topic number two behind their local team is generally how their local AFL or Cricket club is fairing.
So why are we being singled out by the actions of a few?
There are punch-ons in any sport, not to mention crowd violence or damage to property. Just take a look at the footage below of defacement of property at an AFL match at Waverley Park in 1996.
And finally we have the case of Rita Panahi, journalist and ‘social commentator’ and her article from earlier in the week addressing the anti-social behaviour at the Heart-Victory derby on Saturday. The article itself seems to have good intentions, but it puts fans offside in just the first two sentences:
Melbourne’s soccer fans set a new standard in idiocy last weekend; not content with their usual flare-lighting antics, they destroyed 170 seats at Etihad Stadium and again tarnished the image of the game.
And let’s set the record straight: it is called soccer in this country. Football is played with an oval ball on an oval ground.
This is a game we love and cherish. But it’s also a game which has scars and we share these scars as a football family. To lump us all as idiots screams of idiocy itself – whilst defending the community, you can’t push them away by stereotyping and pigeonholing.
And then, when the community rebels and complains, accuse them all of bullying and ‘trolling’. This journalist attempted to reason with Ms Panahi, going so far as to acknowledge the points she made and open her eyes to the footballing world. What I got in return was accusations of agenda-setting, ignorance, and an inability to see the obvious.
Quite the contrary, I was beginning to see the cracks in the argument, and raised facts in regards to the points that she had made.
Some in our business might call it constructive criticism, however, this seems to have come across instead as a personal indictment. She herself made comment of the fact that she goes to Melbourne Heart games and is a fan herself, which is all well and good, but has put offside not only other A-League club fans, but those of the club she too supports.
Further comments on Twitter have marginalised the chance of the football community outreaching forgiveness, as I am not the only journalist to be told the stock standard ‘Good luck with it all. Bye’. Insinuating trolling is one thing, but when someone refuses to let an argument rest and die down, then posts 1000+ tweets on their own Twitter account in retort, it only serves to portray an image of trolling itself and an inability to swallow one’s pride.
And the worst part is this – the article itself was the least inciting and damaging piece out of all three issues that came up this week, and all that it’s served to do is put her offside with the football fraternity.
As I mentioned earlier, if there’s one thing that these three entities should learn, is that ignorance is not bliss, and if you make ill-informed and inciteful comments, the living, breathing football community will rise up in unison. Some will act irrationally, some rationally, but when you get into journalism, you are taught to expect feedback from all directions.
We’re all a football family – inclusive of all. But, like all families, if you anger somebody enough, you might find yourself on the outer.