Eliot explained to a footballer

lazio 1A ” proficient footballer” is a living oxymoron. I don’t know what’s wrong with football , but whoever is engaged in this discipline (my nephew for example), rarely displays any proficiency in school subjects. This is really, strange as the activities connected to other sports like swimming, athletics, volley etc. actually seem to enhance concentration, organization and commitment. Football works in another way. However, since a large number of footballers peoples my classes, I have to cope with the fact that football is their main, if not only, language. In particular, when it comes the time to deal with Eliot and themes such the sense of hopelessness, fragmentation and desolation of the present, lack of future and sense of loss of an entire generation, the contrast between my manly exuberant audience and these themes is really striking. So every time, I cannot help but wonder : have they developed the right sensibility to understand such issues? Running, sweating and vigorously fighting on football fields? Very unlikely. However, I won’t give in. So, let’s put aside books for a while, and let me produce the ultimate effort to make myself clear using; therefore, the universal language of ………football.

lazio 4I love football. I have always loved it, and  I have to thank my father for this. I also have to thank him for having transmitted to me the passion for a glorious team, which is not exactly the Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus or Real Madrid type, but rather the Leicester type (talking about recent miracles), that is, that kind of team that wins whenever the most improbable and exceptional star alignments happen and thus, being these events so rare, the actors of these deeds immediately walk the immortal path to glory and myth. My team is S.S. Lazio and it seems that the stars haven’t been able to find the right alignment for a while. Sixteen years to be precise; and after sixteen years of hopes, and shattered dreams, I am not exaggerating (well,only a little) if I say that Lazio supporters fully embody that sense of hopelessness, fragmentation, desolation of the present and lack of future that so characterized that post-war generation. This is not because we haven’t won much in recent years, but rather, because we have been deprived of our right to dream.  For all of us, in fact, it is now clear that the management of S.S.Lazio doesn’t want or can’t make any effort  to elevate the quality of our beloved team from the present state of mediocrity. Hence, no champions to worship ( we don’t even know the name of the next coach), no goals to achieve and fight for, no future. Thus, when you feel that you have been deprived of your right to hope, you cannot but look back to a past when everything was different: comforting, warm, happy. Not necessarily it has to coincide with the memory a glorious episode, but with the hope and craving for glory.

lazio2Modern football, at least here in Italy, has lost all its ritual. I still remember with great pleasure when my parents decided to replace the Sunday habit of going to church with that of going to the Olympic Stadium in Rome. After all it was still a matter of faith, only with the choice of a different liturgy, that is all. Sunday used to be the only day devoted to matches and all of them started at 3.00 p.m., all of them. When S.S: Lazio played away, we used to follow the team and that became the occasion for a Sunday outing and the visit of the hosting towns. Even my relatives, who were not much into football used to come, as it was the occasion of staying together. I still remember the loads of food we used to take with us, the smell of onion omelette sandwiches, laughter and even the escapes from unfriendly hosts. At 6:00 p.m. Italy halted, as it was the time see the match was given on tv, usually the most important one, so, everybody, even those who did not support those teams used to watch the match. It was a liturgy that had to be consumed to the end, all together.

lazio3Nowadays that sense of ritual and community is completely lost. Sunday is no longer the holy day of football. Football liturgy has been sacrified on the altar of the profit of the pay-per-views. Matches are played from Thursday to Monday and at any time of the day, working days and even lunch time. You can watch the match comfortably at home, of course, with few friends or in solitude, with the result that those cathedrals, which used to be the Italian stadiums are now emptied and left in desolate conditions. And those heroes who used to inflame the hearts of their followers fighting on those arenas, nowadays are only money makers in search of a good contract, wearing the mask of love and dedication, with few exceptions, of course.Therefore, Sunday has become for me the “cruellest” day of the week, “mixing memories” of a happy past and the “desire” for a change, and now as a “tuber” “dried” of any faith or hope, I  no longer follow my team and remain at home nourishing my heart with the little hope that one day a Mr Godot will show up and save me from the present state of desolation.

Dedicated to Gianluca and Marco, great fooballers and………..students. Wish you all the best.

17 thoughts on “Eliot explained to a footballer

  1. Sport, in general, and many of its fans has changed – often not for the better. And I find this disheartening. Yet, I believe, the athletes themselves seem to be a committed and driven lot – for the better; some, perhaps most, but not all. Yes, there will likely will be the exceptions, however, I embrace the modified adage – One bad apple doesn’t ruin the bushel.

    I appreciate ritual. I also recognize that as with habits and cultures, they can and do change. And then, sometimes, we choose to move on.

    A thought provoking and enjoyable post, as always.

  2. football church ah ah ah ah you make me smile really i mean they are so simple i think they can do better things than football first is better educate ourself and than make important choice like what i want to do in my life football and church are not the right choice i think but there is no value no common dream or common target and so they pick the first simple example road thought but this is for morons not fo hero …. and we like just heroes …. if you even explain me why you come in italy i will never understand you 🙂

  3. We have neither faith nor football to fall back onto to mark our Sundays (though we have at least got the local church bells to remind us once a week which day it is). Recorded programmes and streaming, along with DVDs, has largely meant the demise of ‘live’ TV which helped society share the communal experiences of favourite sitcoms or national events on the day it occurred — often a Sunday.

    And if one is retired, with no paid work to mark the progress from day to day, every day is potentially a Sunday. It is incredible how quickly patterns of living have changed in our lifetimes.

  4. Your memories are charming ones and contain parallels to mine regarding baseball. The summer sport where a season is over 160 games and one can root for the team daily. I remember how cheap it was to go to a ball game with family and friends. Now I make it to 2 or 3 a summer. What I do like is listening to a ball game. That’s where my memories come in. In the car, in the living room or the garage, it was the backdrop of summer. Auditory experiences are valuable in our visual world. Anyway, I know Football and baseball are different, but the essence of bonding is the same. Nice post!

  5. Mrs. Tink! Long time no see, and I should also add that I played with the Real Madrid in the “infantiles” that would be age 12-13, and football is kiiiiiiiiing! Plus I also got schorlaship to the U.S to study what I´m writing, so lets go football!

    • Dear Charly, I’ve had my “annus horribilis”, so no much time for writing and strolling around. Real Madrid! Indeed! You rock, Charly! Italy is going to play in fifteen minutes! So , let’s go football 🙋

  6. Mm Mmmm onion omelettes and Saturday soccer – um – I mean football – sounds like a good tradition back then – enjoyed this post! ⚽️⚽️⚽️
    And here in America with American football – the NFL kinda stuff – we used to have the sacred Sunday games with chicken wings and hot sauce! Now – games are Thursday – Monday night – all day Sunday and sometimes Saturday – 🏉🏉🏉

      • Yes – good point!
        But then again – there is boneless checked wings – not the same – and white ranch sauce – also not the same – ha!
        But I really liked this post for the culture richness – and learned some….
        Peace to u 😉

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