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Soccer and Morality

I cracked open the LA Times this morning, a not so routine activity for me anymore.  We gave up our home delivery over a year ago and only recently subscribed to the Sunday Times for the coupons (Kelly is a coupon-money saving fiend).  Even so, Sunday is not a great day for my paper perusing so this morning I read the Sunday Times Sports Page.  Being one of the few soccer fans in the USA, I stumbled across an article entitled: “FIFA firmly stuck in the past” (sic, ? no capitals in titles anymore??) written by Grahame L. Jones.

FIFA (the governing body for soccer worldwide) has decided against using technology to assist referees in their decisions.  This post is not about my opinion about that (I have strong opinions about that by the way) rather I was struck by Grahame L. Jones’ perspective as to why FIFA should have allowed it.  In response to “Swiss curmudgeon Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, FIFA’s increasingly tiresome president, who turned 74 on Wednesday” Jones had this to say in the article (he first quotes the old “curmudgeon” and then replies):

“The application of modern technologies can be very costly, and therefore not applicable on a global level,” Blatter wrote on FIFA’s website after the rules-makers last weekend rejected the use of any technology now and in the foreseeable future.
“This means that the game must be played in the same way no matter where you are in the world. If you are coaching a group of teenagers in any small town around the world, they will be playing with the same rules as the professional players they see on TV.”
Why should youngsters kicking the ball around for fun on a dusty field in, say, El Salvador, need to abide by the same rules that apply to multi-millionaire athletes gliding across manicured lawns in Europe in pursuit of personal glory and silverware?
It makes no sense to demand the same of both. The higher the level of competition, the more there is at stake. The need, therefore, is to take every step to ensure that the sport at the highest level is as free from human error as possible.

“Why should youngsters kicking the ball around for fun on a dusty field in, say, El Salvador, need to abide by the same rules that apply to multi-millionaire athletes…?” Why indeed.  Now I know that this is not a piece on ethics and morality but the ease with which that sentiment was penned and the universal appeal that it makes is a sure sign of the erosion of any sort of belief in absolute morality.

The rules are not the same for the rich and the poor. Our values have moved from being rooted in the revelation of the sacred or even the equality of humanity to what is described here as “personal glory.”  This moral philosophy inevitably leads to the belief that “people who are privileged are more important than people who are not.”  This is what sport has come to not because of something inherent in sport, rather something that is inherent in man.  It is simply reflected here in this bald values statement intended to argue for something unrelated to morality but so revealing about our core values as a society.  It is like the slip of the tongue in a casual context that makes us look deep into our actual beliefs and values. We may not admit this in a formal moral argument, but it rears it’s ugly head as we cry “foul” on behalf of the the privileged in their pursuit of their personal glory which is then so graciously shared with the peons who gather round for a crumb.

I think I might ref some AYSO soccer matches instead of watching the World Cup.

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The TempleBlog started as my personal blog in October of 2006 with my first post: John Stott – it was a listing of John Stott quotes.

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