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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Heaven sent?

I'm reading John Gray's "Straw Dogs" , in which he argues that the secular humanism that passes for orthodox thought in most of Western society is merely the old religious impulse in a new guise. I hope he was watching Chelsea play Liverpool last night. That well-known Churchman Frank Lampard pointed to the sky after he'd scored his penalty, apparently "dedicating" his goal to his recently deceased mother. At the end that prominent man of faith Chelsea manager Avram Grant sank to his knees as if in thanks. In the post-match interview he muttered something about the Holocaust. What gets me about these gestures is their ostentatious nature and the fact that they appear to be playing up to some over-arching "triumph over tragedy" narrative provided by the papers and the TV.

14 comments:

  1. None of this is helped by the fact it was Chelsea but no one does some Auditing in memory of their dead mum, or lays a line of bricks, or subs a line of copy, it's only tearful "brave" multi millionaire footballers et al. Can I also suggest the Russians keep their stolen property when chelsea smugly land in Moscow in a few weeks.

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  2. Anonymous4:29 pm

    Just how smug is that Champions' League final going to be? I think I'll find something else to do whatever night it's on.

    David
    (A not-at-all-bitter Arsenal fan, living in Liverpool!)

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  3. I'm sure his mum is so proud, sat up there on a fluffy cloud which is floating past God. She can step off it and tell the Almighty how lucky she is to have a son who dedicates goals to her.

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  4. You don't get any of this nonsense when Kimi Räikkönen wins a race. A gulp of champagne on the podium and some non-committal words mumbled into the collar of his racing overalls and then off he goes.

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  5. When Michael Schumacher's mother died, he won the GP the following weekend and without fuss just smiled on the podium and did not do the champagne thing at all. Very dignified and no apparent dedication to her. I was impressed - which is unusual for me as I am not a Schumacher fan.

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  6. Here’s Martin Samuel in today’s Times (usually a pretty sensible fellow): “what a man.. amongst the gutsiest acts from any athlete, across many decades”.
    There’s all sorts of balls in the papers about “bravery” and “courage”.
    Now hang on a minute. We could discuss at length what genuine bravery and courage involves, but in the end any definition boils down to doing things that are difficult or dangerous to do; that you’d rather not do; but, for whatever reason, you feel you absolutely have to.
    I know it must be pretty nerve-wracking to take a penalty in a European Cup semi-final but Frank Lampard chose to do it. He grabbed the ball off his team-mate Michael Ballack, who in a long career, usually as his team’s appointed penalty taker, has only failed to score from the spot once.
    That’s not bravery. That‘s show-boating.
    Don’t want to belittle the Lampard’s family’s grief but it would be a bit more dignified to keep it private.
    I’m getting a bit fed up of this emotional incontinence in our society. There was something to be said for the stiff upper lip?

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  7. I'm a Chelsea fan and thought Frank overdid it a tad. I hate all this public, Oprah-ized display of grief too but my mum hasn't just died so I cut the guy some slack.

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  8. Didn't see the match but I stopped watching the previous night because of the sycophantic commentary which must be at odds with most viewers impressions. Apparently someone possibly Tevez ran a lot and would 'sleep well'. Well I would sort of hope a millionaire professional sportsman would be tired after their most important fixture of the season. Running as Tevez did for the duration of a football match really isn't that demanding. Brian Moore needs to switch from rugby to football commentary.

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  9. Anonymous10:49 pm

    I'm sure when I was a kid there was rarely a minute's silence at matches. Nowadays ... I was watching a match recently and there was a minute's silence because some Dutch football administrator had died! And there were no Dutch teams playing!

    As for black armbands because someone's Mum died ... it just devalues the gesture.

    And don't get me started on displays of scarves, shirts and flowers in aid of the deification of recently deceased players.

    As has been mentioned many times, it all started with Diana. It's time it stopped.

    John

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  10. I blame the Americans for all these public displays of emotion. Bring back the stiff upper lip.

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  11. The headline on Simon Barnes's column in today's Times actually says "Penalty that proved a triumph not only for Lampard, but for life itself."

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  12. I read Straw Dogs a few years back. For me it was boringly misanthropic, cynical, and pessimistic (like the movie, actually) and factually wrong in terms of much of its evidence. As for Frank give the kid a break, his mum has died! And after all he is from the East End where ostentatious expressions of grief are not unknown.

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  13. Anonymous8:04 pm

    The normally reliable Richard Williams also wrote a lot of nonsense about Lampard in the Guardian today.

    John

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  14. When Average Grant got down on his knees in that game I couldn't help but consider the fact that he probably hasn't done such a thing at Stamford Bridge before - at least, not when Abramovich hasn't been around, flies undone.

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