So…Robin van Persie.
Alright, let’s face it – you don’t want to read about a certain Robin van Persie right now. I promise to not bore you with another ‘he should’ve done X.. he was stupid to do Y’, and I also promise that this is not simply about Robin Van Persie – but for now, let’s just say his method of making his decision known was probably the worst way to force through a move.
Simply put, I think we ought to get rid of him as soon as possible. He is a player who has had one good season, after many years of being injured consistently; and he thinks he knows how to run Arsenal FC better than the manager himself. If that doesn’t clearly show that he is deluded in more ways than one; he is also a player who has stated that he’s leaving because the club is not being run on his terms – and I’d say that warrants tests for mental handicap.
That being said – I thought the responses to Robin Van Persie leaving were a lot more interesting to read, in comparison to RVP’s awful blog post, that is. Martijn Stolze wrote a brilliantly worded and elaborate piece in the form of a letter to the man himself. A certain @ScottyDavisAFC went on a 25-tweet rant that turned a few heads (I personally thought it was brilliant).
That being said, there were a few other responses that caught my attention from local writers here in India – but none was as thought-provoking as a particular one that went by the title – “Robin Van Persie giving a lesson in Footballing Pragmatism 101″.
I am not trying to start a war with anyone. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, this article in particular in parts, echoed a sentiment that is being spread by certain self-proclaimed experts on the Internet on what we, the fans, ought to expect from players, and what how we ought to act. I seem to see more and more people agreeing with this sentiment, and I for one, cannot understand why.
This sentiment can be interpreted and explicated as follows -
We, the fans of a football club (whichever club that might be) ought to not expect anything from players, but to do well on the pitch. They are just employees of a club who can do whatever they wish to do, off the pitch – but as long as they perform on the pitch, we ought to “understand”.
We, the fans, are deluded, stupid, and are wasting our time by expecting players to understand that there is a human, emotional connection that is built with players that are special to a club – because in reality, there isn’t. We, the fans, are stupid to make out our players to be something they are not – club legends, giants, stars, gods – whatever they might be.
To put it simply – football, on the part of fans, needs unadulterated pragmatism, and not sheer emotion. We should not get emotionally attached to certain players, because as Robin Van Persie showed us, it is easy for those very players to stab you in the back; leave you heartbroken.
Let me just say that this sentiment, in my opinion, is utter nonsense. This is just my opinion, and you are obviously free to disagree with me - but I’d love to know why.
Yes, Arsenal supporters are disappointed. Angry. We feel betrayed. But does that mean we ought to give up respecting, cheering on, and loving every other player who stays committed to the cause, simply because there is a possibility that you might, some day, get backstabbed, yet again?
I don’t think so. The way I see it, football is all about emotions. A certain Utsav Shreshta (known as the @funnygooner on Twitter) put up a great post on Fresh Football titled “What are we fans?”, describing what the fans meant to the sport we all love. I quote this from his great article -
“What I love when a goal is being scored is to watch the fans go crazy behind the goal, or that man spilling his beer while he celebrates his team’s goal by jumping in his chair, that old man shedding his tear watching his team win, that little girl with her country’s flag in her cheeks smiling because of that goal. That, for me, is pure joy. It is unconditional, like a mother’s love.”
It is clear that there is a primal, raw form of sheer emotion that comes with football – whether it be when you’re celebrating, or down in the dumps. I remember days in the past where I’ve felt like utter crap as an Arsenal fan when we lost a game they ought to have won, and I had to go to school and listen to endless taunts about how Wenger was an utter idiot. And I remember days where I’d feel on top of the world when Arsenal say, beat United or Chelsea. And I am absolutely certain that every single football fan who has spent a reasonable amount of time following and supporting his or her team has felt those emotions as well.
So to the people that say that we as fans are silly to be emotional about our clubs, I ask – do you really want to do away with all of this emotion that comes along with associating oneself with a sport?
Do you want to simply be pragmatic and say, “X did a good job for us when he was here, but he can improve on his Y”, or would you rather “X isn’t going anywhere, he’s a club legend and he better F*#$*#$ stay!!!”?
Do you really want people to sit down and clap in a very polite manner when their favorite strikers score, instead of them proceeding to lose their minds and yelling themselves hoarse?
I am not saying that it is pointless to look at things from a pragmatic perspective. But expecting fans to stop emotionally attach themselves to players is silly at the very least. Any sport remains popular as long as fans attach themselves to players and their clubs – we love how our favorite players for different reasons – for how they play, carry themselves on and off the pitch, what they do in their spare time, and so on and so forth. We write chants about them, we write songs about them, we print banners and proudly put them up for everyone to see.
You might argue that it is okay to be attached to a player, but it is not okay to expect them to return the favor. Players must not be expected to care about how fans are emotionally attached to them, and in this time and age, they should be able to go to wherever it is they want to without having the burden of the hopes of millions of people around the world, you might say.
But is it really too much to ask of a player to be reciprocative and appreciate the support he gets? Is it really to much, to expect a player to stay at a club, because he genuinely loves to play for that club? Is that an example of fighting a lost battle?
I sincerely hope not. Sports in general, and not just football – is more about how fans relate to players and teams than it is about the sport itself. Saying that fans should not expect players to reciprocate in some way or the other, is well, just wrong. Shouldn’t any decent human being reciprocate in the appropriate manner to positive emotions? If millions of fans love a certain player, should he or she not treat them properly, and thank them for their support in the appropriate manner?
Without fans, no established sport would be as big as it might be in the present. So when people say that as fans, we are stupid to expect players to understand that there is an emotional connection to a player, that thousands of people are genuinely attached to them – and put them up on a pedestal of sorts, I disagree.
The way I see it, sheer, unadulterated pragmatism is for the boring television pundits – and it is the only reason I honestly think pure sports journalism is awfully boring – because you’re often expected to write devoid of emotion!
As fans, we have every right to keep screaming in anger, in frustration, and in happiness, in elation; making ourselves heard in every possible manner.
Because without us, the fans, and the emotion that we bring to the sport – football would be an awfully boring game.