Oct 3, 2010

You, Me, aur We

I know a lot of people who watch football on TV. Usually, they watch the English Premier League, which is perfectly timed to give them their weekend excuse for not going out to meet relatives (at least the non-football-ones). The even more committed will stay up to watch La Liga and Serie A. The absolutely crazy ones will perhaps even watch Dempo vs Salgaocar on a Thursday afternoon.

But it is the first lot that I want to talk about - the ones that watch 20 English clubs in one of the world's most commercialised sporting leagues. Talk to some of them, and a curious linguistic-social oddity will strike you: they refer to their teams with pronouns such as "us" and "we". People have attained a curious level of self-identification that lets them attach a part of themselves with a team based in a place most of them would struggle to pick out on a map. Mind you, only the top clubs, nay marketing wonders, have managed these psychological feats - I have never met someone in my local circle who would use a "we" for Sunderland or West Bromwich Albion.

I recently stumbled upon a fabulous satire on the dependably hilarious show That Mitchell and Webb Look - to me, the definite summary of the nonsensical nature of this kind of feeling among some fans. Watch it even if you aren't a football buff:


Santosh Kumar T K said...


This is a common occurrence here in the US among the Indian students, (from Andhra Pradesh, particularly. )They root for the top teams in the NBA as if they have grown up watching them and currently own them. This is very evident in their "us'" and "We's". Mind you this is strictly for the top teams and not for any particular non-branded yet deserving team whose play they should appreciate otherwise. All their support and the show of it has to be face saving. Aah! as I keep saying it this could be extrapolated to so many other such social phenomena; the food they eat, the places they choose to visit, the "brands" of clothes they choose to wear.

Unknown said...

Santosh: a desire to fit in, perhaps. Interesting.

Indian Sociologist said...

I agree with Mr Santosh. The desire to fit in, and appear western is overwhelming.

I have met so many people (Indian)of my age who 'adopt' clubs, then force themselves to like football, so that they can talk about it.

I wanted to blog about it myself, but I couldn't. Many won't like my saying this, but this phenomena is quite prominent in big cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad which I think do not produce enough sporting heroes of their own these days. So, 'men' have to discuss some sports 'over beer' like their western counterparts who they see in American/Brit sitcoms do. Unfortunately, the sports and teams also turn out to be the same. For instance, who will be Bombay's flagship sportstar once Sachin goes.

Here in Chandigarh, people actually take pride in desi sports, and desi culture, despite being more globally integrated and involved in Brit and American sports as well as politics firsthand. If you refer to Man U or Real as 'us' here, even elitist groups will snub you off. Probably because, people have shooters, wrestlers and hockey players of their own to be proud of.

Moral of the story: I think it's good to like videshi stuff, but empathising it with it to an extent that one forgets the reality, and the people it actually represents is just lame.

Unknown said...

'Indian Sociologist': thanks for that well thought out comment.

Ameya said...

Honestly, having experienced the hardship firsthand, it is really difficult to support a team that is going to be on Tele 5 times a year. It is just a sport, i suppose. Depends on how much one can invest.

What happened to Kabbadi, kho-kho? Colonization of DNA? Survival of fittest?

Anand S said...

You don't quite GET it, JR , do you ?
There was a time when these clubs stood for something, far beyond a geography ( eg. >5 EPL teams based in London alone )and a coloured jersey. That something was what unified generations, families--ethos, angst, give it any name. Yes, the money, glamour, WAGs, coverage are uncouth but how many of these "ones" grudge them that ?
You are wrong on the top clubs only geting preference, please expand your "local circles" :)
Have you ever pondered on this dependably hilarious show having Liverpool "we" as reference, despite not winning anything except a Champions League, for ever now ? And for "commercialized leagues" , which of these types was around when India was hosting Vietname & Yemen at Balewadi ?
Don't care about the US/C'garh, so won't comment !
As Bill Shankley said "Football is ..far more... "
So lemme wallow in the grime of "our triumph" y'day while you studiedly maintain a neutral stance as you watch a retelecast of Nieu play Cook Islands at lawn bowls .

Nandan said...

brilliant! simply brilliant! I have been following football for years, but not enough to call favourite teams we and us and what not (for gods sake! we dont call the indian cricket team as us!), but this is a very nice clip.

Unknown said...

Nandan: would have no problem if you claimed Indian teams as "yours" as I'd understand the rationale. But glad to hear that even that isn't necessary for you, to be able to follow a sport :-)