Serendipity

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Apolitical



“The word 'apolitical' has to be the worst in the English language. EVERYTHING is political.” – Sam Down (aka @GreenSamPAFC)

What Sam has said is so obvious it hardly needs saying but his saying it has struck a chord with me. In an Argyle context one of the, rather weak it has to be said, oft repeated statements used to justify any number of topics is “nobody is interested in the politics; they just want to have a couple of pints, go to a match and watch their team play football”. Well I want to sink a pint or two and then watch my team play football but it hardly stops there, does it? Not if you are intellectually adult, for want of a better phrase, anyway.

How might you have travelled to the game? Train, bus, car, coach, aeroplane, Shanks’s pony? Those things are fuelled by diesel or electric or petrol or pasties (other foodstuffs are available – so I am told). So there’s road tax, duty and/or VAT to be paid for them and that money comes out of your wages (also taxed of course). So if you think the price you pay is too high you need to pay less tax which in turn means that we can afford lower pensions for our elderly or fewer soldiers, hospitals or teachers. Don’t grumble about any of them being cut or under-resourced if you want a cheaper tank of petrol. Like it or not that’s politics.Or maybe it takes too long to travel. Maybe there is a poor bus or train service or maybe the roads are chockers with traffic. Politics again: it is our government at local and national level that sets transport infra-structure and that is paid for by taxes.

Once at a game political decisions have been taken to ensure that standing to watch a game is now all but prohibited everywhere. You aren’t allowed to stand should you wish to because politicians somewhere passed the law making it illegal to do so. We can’t drink a beer on the terraces at a football match (unlike at a cricket or rugby match – despite rugby, of course, often being played in exactly the same stadia with fans sitting in exactly the same seats) because politicians say we can’t.

The philosophy behind the way a club is run is political and you can see the differing models at different clubs of various sizes up and down the country. So the ownership model of your club is political. The profits and/or losses that your club makes impacts on the tax it pays and that affects roads, hospitals, schools, police, the military and everything else. All political once again.

Taking the politics out of football is impossible just as taking politics out of everything else is. I can’t help but wonder why anybody would espouse the “just watch the football” line unless their motivation lies elsewhere and they are saying one thing to achieve another all of which is very Machiavellian (and Machiavelli was, of course, a politician).

It is very, very clear that the Apolitical Thing is completely nonsensical on many practical levels but the real killer is the paradox that any decision to attempt to be apolitical is in itself a definably political one meaning that whatever the grounds for saying it and whatever the desired objective might be the cause is immediately lost as soon as it is mentioned.

Or it does in the post-child world anyway.

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