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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Passion is no ordinary word

If you wanted to fly somewhere and were offered a choice between one pilot who was capable and another who was immensely passionate about every aspect of flying, surely you'd choose the former rather than the latter? Feeling strongly about something doesn't make you do it any better. It may well make you do it worse.

England fans blame the team's shortcomings on their lack of passion, the fact that they aren't driven by the same strong emotion that compels them. Well, they wouldn't be, would they? The players are in a position to influence events. The fans exhibit passion - which generally means they shout themselves hoarse - because they aren't in a position to influence events. They persuade themselves that the reason England failed in the last week is because they were thinking about their Porsches. It wasn't because they couldn't pass the ball in a straight line and endured a collective nervous breakdown.

I blogged in the past about what Arsene Wenger said about football and a country's writers. It still holds good. The French dressing room at the moment doesn't look too much like the home of rationalism. I'm sure they'll get over that, as England may even get over their current malaise. At which point all the fans will say, see, they've won because they're finally showing "some passion".

We increasingly sprinkle our national conversation with references to passion. Companies claim to be passionate about everything from magazines to under floor heating. Maybe we do it to invoke a religious or patriotic feeling that we wouldn't allow ourselves to express in any other way. We assume that passion solves all problems. It doesn't. It may well get in the way. Shakespeare wrote his best plays about people in the grip of their own ungovernable passions. Oddly enough he didn't write any about tragic heroes who couldn't do right for doing wrong. That's a far more common feeling.