FOOTBALL AND ----KING* SWEARING
Mickey Blue Eyes
"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules, and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus shooting."
GEORGE ORWELL, 'Shooting an Elephant,' 'I Write as I Please' (1950).
"Rules are made for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men."
HUGH DOWDING, Air Chief Marshall RAF Fighter Command (1936-1940). (Attributed).
"When angry, count four; when very angry, swear."
MARK TWAIN, 'Pudd'nhead Wilson,' chapter 19 (1894).
On Saturday, Wayne Rooney was caught swearing on camera and it was shown on BBC TV's Match of the Day, where Gary Lineker and those other chintzy pundits Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer had their say. Immediately afterwards Rooney issued a suspiciously well-worded if plastic apology which managed to exclude his obligatory conjunctive "erms." Plainly the PR boys got to him first. Subsequently he was suspended for two games, though not before there had been a "debate." Or something.
Well, I might as well nail my colours to the mast in this: he got caught in flagrante so do the crime, do the time. Don't complain, Wayne, you had it coming. We all know the rules. We all know what they mean. We all have to pay the penalty. And to his credit Wayne hasn't complained, which is just as well because the manc sponsor might have joined in - or should I say out - a la Tiger Woods. Maybe that's why the apology was issued so quickly. Again, I show you the economic times.
Once again we heard all the stuff about "role models" and "being an example to the kids," both of which claims have a germ of truth and which therefore gives them a measure of traction. But only a measure. In fact any parent who tells their children to use a sports hero as a role model is a nincompoop because all role models, no exceptions, have feet of clay. They are merely human beings and subject to the same rushes of blood to the head as everyone else. The best role model is the self and the behaviour you elect to follow. If that pushes up against consensual law or behaviour, tough. Deal with it. In other words, be responsible for your own behaviour. To his credit Rooney has done that. The only question is whether he would have done so without prompting. Only he can know the answer. Whether we believe he would have done or not is immaterial.
Now, I wouldn't believe any fan who claimed they had never sworn over football. I know I have and so has everybody I know. However, most of us try to control it and take account of who is in the vicinity, especially if there are women and children. Sometimes we fall from grace. Who would cast the first stone?
And whilst actually playing you are unlikely to say, "Oh my word!" if someone has just tried to despatch you into row Z with a two-footed, knee-high "tackle." You are far more likely, but not certain, to come out with the kind of language that would discolour through-tone brickwork or perforate ear drums. It isn't pretty but it is all too human. People are like that, different in their spontaneous reactions.
However - and this is where Rooney ended up on the rocks - you have to navigate the shoals, the uncertain areas. In football, shouting a curse close up into a TV camera during a high profile tense match isn't the best of ideas. All it does is keep chintzy no-marks like messrs. Lineker, Hansen, Shearer and tabloid journos in a job. A very bad idea with only one outcome. And for what? Hasn't Wayne had enough lessons in their ways? Best do your talking with your inimitable best footy. A hat trick did that with knobs on. You had already won. Let them eat that.
If this sounds like I have no sympathy for Wayne, I haven't. He behaved stupidly, as badly as the rest of us do from time to time. But, like us, he knew the score and still chose to ignore it. He can have no complaint. Nor can any of us who step over the line and get snared. The lesson isn't, "Don't get caught," it is know and understand where the reasonable line is and what your own defaults are.
It isn't easy, as Wayne Rooney just found out.
*The missing word is "blinking."