Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Of Football, Rugby & Being Different

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free - Charles Hughes

It's late in the evening and I am seated by the poolside in my neighborhood, watching the HSBC Sevens World Series.  I love the game, but I am no fanatic. I watch sevens mostly because Kenya is in the series. I am always rooting for the boys, something that somewhat appeals to my patriotic side. 

This weekend in London, although this is not our best performance we are faring on relatively well. We beat Japan early today, with Collins Injera, the Kenyan speedster, marking a milestone with his 200th try - what will later be referred to as a very costly try.  
Soccer Vs. Rugby
Later, we would annihilate Samoa - once a team to reckon with in the series . We are now playing Argentina in the Bowl Finals. Although this is mostly a face-saving contention for us, the boys are looking good with real prospects of winning.  Suddenly, someone changes the channel and on the screen is Arsenal  Vs. Manchester United.

At that moment, I am upset, and  understandably so. For starters, there are plenty of screens at the property (at the poolside alone, where I am seated, there are 3 screens) and I would expect that for anyone who cares little for the English Premier League, they would at least screen the rugby game on one of the screens.

Competitive and exciting
It takes me a few minutes of arguing to get my screen ‘restored.’ More interestingly though, as I was trying to make my case as best as I know how (I have patronized the property all weekend, just for the rugby) I realize that I am the only one remotely interested in the sevens game, never mind that the Kenyan game is currently ongoing with the boys at the cusp of a win.

Forget the idiosyncrasies of the EPL, how would you explain that the 'whole world' is in love with soccer? Yes, I am sure that the EPL is competitive. Yes, I have no doubt that it is exciting.  Yes, I can not argue that it is well put together. I am sure that lovers of the game (what I would otherwise call fanatics), can go on and on extolling the virtues of the game and by extension, the league itself.  However,  as far as I am concerned, the popularity of the game speaks to savvy marketing (remember Mayweather Vs. Pacqiao). Such is the success of their marketing strategy that in comparison to a game of rugby featuring the Kenyan team, mine was just but a lonely voice. 

Secondly, and I go out on a limb here, it also speaks to the human quest for distinctiveness. Ironically, in our quest to be different we have become the same. As such, by supporting Chelsea or Manchester United,  rather than being different from those who support Arsenal or Manchester City we have all become the same in so far as the love of football in general and the EPL in particular, is concerned.

How many times has someone walked up to you and  asked you what team you support, right off the bat? Have you gotten so tired of the question that you ‘adopted’ a team, just so that you would get along and avoid ruining the moment? Always great hearing from you.


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