Off-Field Performance

​What footballers do to prepare for the game is visible in the mass of their muscle, in the focus they maintain when scores are level in time-on in the last quarter. What supporters do to prepare for the game is invisible and political. We must shrink ourselves down to single units, to gird our loins for the consumer onslaught to the sites of our bodies, our eyes, our ears, our interactions.

Ron English – Popaganda

Our readiness for compliance is tested before we even make it into the ground. Are we prepared to keep silent as our bags are searched for bottles, as we stand star-shaped while a man runs his penis-shaped device up the front and down the back of our bodies to check for stuff that blows shit up? But of course we will be silent. We want to watch our teams. And anyway, what kind of selfish dick would object to a minor-level interrogation of their innocence in the current global climate? This checking is in the name of the public good. If it feels violating, then that’s a sign of personal weakness.
But this interrogation is not really in the name of the public good. We are homo economus. We are entering not just into a football stadium but also into a financial transaction and such a species has no need of collective concepts. And anyway, if you look at this interrogation in the right light it can feel like a kind of caring, the protection of a strong benefactor. Sure, it’s the same fake caring as that demonstrated in the TV advertisement of one of the big 4 banks, the one where they show the life of a child from birth to almost-adulthood and declare that life is about more than money while they still arse-shaft us as much as they always have. 

While the checking of your person for explosives may really only be a demonstration of duty of care to offset legal potentialities, still, take some kind of comfort that your ability to consume shit and to uphold our criminal financial system by your continued payment of interest to the exceedingly rich – this envelops you well within the parameters of this care. And that’s good enough, isn’t it? All you need to do is remember your position in the game as a consumer. And if you do happen to forget, the scoreboard and the loudspeakers will kindly remind you, from the beginning of your football supporting experience until its very end.

Some of us will feel rage at this corporate violation from start to finish but there is no space to rage against the appropriation of our homo sapiensical spaces. It feels dumb to even say that shared collectivr times like the footy might be important to the social fabric not completely unravelling, the times where you and I and your kids all meet up within our non-lounge rooms and experience something that’s happening in front of our eyes, deviceless. It feels almost intimate, just this, this sitting together in this one space. That even here we are harrassed is so much a part of the scenery now that to complain about it feels almost like whingeing about something you have no control over, like the weather, and so best shut up and make the best of it.

It is impossible during the game to avoid the advertising of your football club’s sponsors. It infests itself into the top of the scoreboard, in the digital panel celebrating every goal, on the guernseys, on the ball. It reminds you at every turn who dictates the terms and it’s not your club and it’s not you and your membership.

When the siren sounds and it’s quarter, half, three-quarter time, you would like a break from the pace and rhythm of the game, to reflect on its contents, to talk to the person next to you and anticipate the next quarter. But that is difficult at this point in the schedule, because this is the ad break where you are reminded of who makes all of this financially lucrative. Therefore, please sit back and be entertained with harmless little games where supporters – most usually your children – compete for a small piece of sponsor pie, in the form of vouchers or cash, in return for jumping around doing something dumb in order to demonstrate how easily they will give away a small piece of the dignity they don’t even know they are giving away in return for a trinket.
It is a thankless task, subjecting yourself to the rigours and miseries of corporation football-going. Sometimes I think I am tired enough of the indignity to stop going. To become that most loathsome creature, the stay-at-home viewer. The corporate violation continues on the TV of course but at home there is the mute button. The clubs and the league appear unable to resist whoring out every possible surface and facet of the game to increase sponsorship profits. And that’s not a game I agreed to play.

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