Sunday, July 03, 2011

A Tribe Called Soccer

Contributing Editor Graham Fox

As the wild cats roar in the dark, a tribe gathers in a stone room, the air full of dried herbs.

The nights have been cold.

The elders say the time for planting and growth is here (the stars foretell it), yet the frost still attacks the crops. The tribe needs the sun. Darkness and damp drips down like an oppressive sheet.

Frost is hardening around the tender green shoots of life, the village’s salvation in the coming summer and winter. The plants are slowly freezing and their death threatens to kill all but the strongest. As one, the village stirs with life and walk through the shiver inducing cold to the edge of the canyon. The wise start the rhythm. Clapping and stomping their feet in the wet dust. Together, the tribe believes.

The young, the old, the weak, the strong, and the workers sing, chant, and dance, throwing sound into the chasm of the canyon, imploring, demanding, and pleading.

“Sun! Rise again, leave us in this cold and we will die.”

In the distance a bird sings. A golden, glow, an orange light creeps upward like a Jules Olitski painting.

The villager’s hands raise as one welcome the victory over cold death.

The bright rays creep over the rocks and stones, each pebble throwing a shadow longer than a man stretched out in the dust.

The light will reach the crops in time. The damage will be saved. The villager’s belief, their praise, their sacrifice, has saved the crops. Their Sun God, now with face aglow, raises himself in the sky.

Laughter rolling like thunder, the tribe moves themselves for the days of work ahead, smiles on their faces, knowing that as one they have encouraged victory, influenced that which no man should rightly influence.


After Saturday, a day full of live soccer, friends, food, drink, and a win, a grin crept across my face and stayed put. I carried that smile, that euphoria with me throughout the week. I had thrown myself into cheering on Sporting with abandon; flag waving voice crackling abandon.

What is it that makes me keep going back to live soccer? Professional soccer, if analyzed enough, can torn down to a business taking our money and tricking us into artificially cheering for a team designed just for that purpose, with players who don’t really care where they get paid.

But it’s not that simple. We know it’s a business; nobody’s pullin a fast one on us. We love and support soccer not because it is a manufactured business set to capture our dollars, but in spite of it.

What are we chasing? Is it the security of a mob mentality? Is there something about joining together in rhythmic chants, delirious to the world, that brings us back to a time in the past when we huddled together in a cave, an encampment, a teepee, a wet hut, just inside the fire light? We sing as one, chanting and praying, hoping and praying, believing despite the cruel world around us, that we could influence something that is outside of our abilities to influence?

Shouting into the wind in one voice, we call for the heroes on the field to bring us hope and happiness. Footballers who are like us. Footballers who have wives and children, jobs, faults, lechery, drunkenness, glut, forgiveness, true greatness, kindness, and yet they are no heroes. A team of men play a game on the field instead of typing on the computers or building roads.

Footballers whose time in the public eye is limited, whose time to earn are limited to 15 years of hard work till they will be set aside, forgotten, while we move on to our next great hope and belief. We grow weary of their age, their lack of speed, their ever decreasing skill. Always, we want the better model.

And yet despite the utter humanity of our heroes, the institutions desire to market to our demographics, to take our money with fancy stadiums and electronic sign boards, to dictate what we should and should not cheer, we rise together out of our huts and walk to the edge of the canyon to stomp in the dust and scream into the yawning chasm.

I believe

I believe that

I believe that we

I believe that we will win

I believe that we will win

I believe that we will win

We can influence the game, the bounce of the ball, the bad positioning of the goal keeper. We can bring about the mistakes that move the ball to the back of the net. Our will and beliefs manifest themselves on the playing field.

We will win the game.

We will score a goal.

We will bring the cup home.

We will save our plants from frost.

We will make the sun rise.


This week as I share music I like we are going to take a little break from the usual electronic fare:

Miike Snow - Animal

Noah and The Whale –L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.

Lemon Jelly – Space Walk


Graham Fox on Twitter


Anonymous John said...

way to copy the rbny supporters chant there guy

7:07 PM  
Blogger brucio said...

careful there John

if you think that is an original of rbny fans then you don't get out much

i remember it being used by my high school in the late 70's, and they were surely no bastion of originality either

i think its used by lots of folks all over the place

7:21 PM  

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