Fan Culture and Tribe Mentality
Passionate about football? Well, you are not alone. I count myself in that category too, but so does people with completely different views on sport culture. Hooligans might also subscribe to the label as passionate, but using quite different means to communicate team loyalty. Why does passion sometimes turn into fanaticism?
Watching Italy vs. Serbia in the recent Euro 2012 qualifying round reminded me how some people are football supporters in a completely different manner than the majority of fans. Football riots have been part of modern football for a long time but peaked around 1985 when English clubs were banned for five years from European football as a result of the Heysel Stadium disaster. Throughout the 1990ies hooliganism continued to be a problem but due to massive improvements in stadium facilities and security the troubles was bought down to a somewhat acceptable level.
However, all the security in the world can’t prevent people from going berserk. Why is that? Here is a theory to answer the question: True club loyalty is not just a matter of identifying with a team because of its sublime merchandise selection. The feeling goes much deeper and can – not to much surprise – be linked to the primitive element of human nature.
Tribes In Football
‘The Soccer Tribe’ by Desmond Morris is a fascinating piece of work in which the author argues that football in fact is a continuation of early tribe mentality. Think about it: Take away the commercial and organizational aspect of modern football and replace it with two tribes just wanting to beat the crap out of each other.
Desmond Morris is an esteemed British zoologist and he observed football clubs and fans as he would observe an ancient tribe. He discovered that many of the features of football correlate with those of early tribes. After some time he made his first discovery: “It soon became clear that each centre of football activity – each football club – was organizes like a small tribe (…)”
The football tribe has many attributes like “tribal elders, doctors, and heroes”. Especially the hero-part is easily confirmed. Just think of Der Kaiser aka Franz Beckenbauer from Germany or watch this very visual proof that messing with the tribe hero’s reputation takes some nerve (the clip is about rugby, but I guess the same tribal mindset applies).
So being passionate is just a matter of caring for the tribe. Question answered… Or not? Do you think hooliganism is a matter of tribal leftovers in human nature?
Could there be more answers to the question?
Do you think hooliganism can be tamed?
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