The World Cup is just around the corner and fans of the "beautiful game" are waiting with baited breath on whether the historic tournament is going to be reduced to a shit show consisting of poor refereeing, racist chants, and hooliganism. Good luck with that Brazil and FIFA organizers. Iím rooting for you. (Not really)
Even the Logo looks like someone doing a face palm.
Whether you refer to the beautiful game as football, futbol, calcio, soccer (for the Aussies out there), or DURRRR this is not real FOOTBAWL! (HEY AMERICA!), there is one thing that the sport has an unfortunate connection with , and that is hooliganism. Just like with a lot of things, a few bad apples ruin it for the bunch.
Hooliganism in itself is a violent and physical form of fanaticism. It can consist of verbal abuse, but it can also become physically violent, where fans will attack fans of opposing teams, attack players of the opposing team, and at times even attack players of the team they apparently support.
Hooligans give the game of soccer a bad name, much in the same way that fanboys give gamers a bad name. I will freely admit that during my younger days, I would have classified myself as a Sega fanboy where I would harass my friends and classmates who were Nintendo fans and vice versa. However, this was playground banter any never amounted to anything more than kids being kids, no different than boys arguing which superhero was the coolest.
The answer to that question is obviously Batman.
The days of Nintendo fans versus Sega fans had an innocence to it and yet, as the gamer demographic began to skew older and online communications began to grow via the ever expanded use of the internet, things got less innocent and a lot more serious.
I never quite understood why some folks find the need to turn conversations in comments and message boards toxic against fans of other consoles. Maybe I just became an old man shaking his cane at the neighborhood kids cutting across his lawn and Iím simply out of touch. Perhaps itís the disposable income that comes with getting older and moving up the ranks in business that allows me to own multiple consoles and not feel like I have to defend my decision with whatever brand I chose. Perhaps some people are just fucking assholes and like to shit on other people.
Before becoming a dad, I used to go to a lot of live sporting events, mostly football and baseball games. Without fail, there would be a fan or group of fans that would spew the most vile and racist shit Iíve ever heard. To make matters worse, they were supporting the same team I was, but their goal, unlike mine, was not to go to a game, throw back a few beers and enjoy ones self, but rather become the center of attention and ruin the experience for everyone around them.
Iíve seen grown fucking men make fun of a young Jewish boy wearing a yarmulke at a New York Jets game to the point where he started to get tears in his eyes. Iíve also seen men at a Yankees game make racist comments to Hideki Matsui. The stereotypical and vulgar comments that they taunted him are not even worth repeating, and yet these were Yankee fans, taunting a Japanese man, who just so happen to be playing for the fucking Yankees.
I also want to point out that this is far from an American problem. Footballers of African descent are under constant attack at stadiums throughout Europe, not just from opposing fans, but from their own teamís fans as well.
Itís not uncommon for fans to throw bananas onto the pitch at opposing black players as well as taunting them monkey sounds whenever they touched the ball. I confronted a friend of mine who lives in Italy about this once, on how this is blatantly racist behavior. He defended himself saying that the fans were not racist, that whenever they made monkey noises at one of their players, they did it out of respect and Italians could not be racist. According to him, racism is strictly an American problem. We were drinking heavily during this conversation so maybe I hallucinated the entire thing.
In Italy, when you like someone, you throw bananas at them, right? RIGHT!?!
You know where else you can encounter random acts of racism? Go online and play some multiplayer. Hang out in any random game lobby and some prick will eventually go on some tirade spewing every racial and homophobic slur imaginable. The only difference is that many times these slurs and targeted to anyone and everyone, whether theyíre black or gay, who knows? You can say that these individuals feel emboldened by the anonymity that comes with being online.
I would also like to add that the same types of people who poison game lobbies very often are the ones who grief their own teammates during a game. Instead of just enjoying the game, they want to make it about them. Not too dissimilar to the racist chants at soccer stadiums or someone throwing a banana onto a field.
Just like racist hooligans at a sporting event, the racist gamers lurking in multiplayer ruin the experience for everyone, however you can always mute them, then seek them out in the game and take them out. I wouldnít suggest doing that to some asshole fan in real life, unless you want to get arrested.
So what is one to do with the griefers, racists and generally the assholes that you find online? Personally, I mute them pretty much automatically and eventually block them so that I never have to encounter them again. Not too different to what I do with the assholes that I encounter in real life actually. Iíd rather tune people out or avoid them than getting into a argument that can escalate into something stupid. For whatever reason, I also rarely report people for bad behavior, both online and in real life situations with hooligans and racists. My hope is that someone else will do it. I would rather not get involved.
As I got older, Iíd rather avoid conflict whenever possible. Unless someone is attacking me or my family, Iíll let someone else get involved. My days of scuffling are over.
So how do you guys deal with assholes, both virtually and in real life? Do you tune them out and give them a disapproving glare, like me, do you say something, report them, or go in with your dukes up, like an old timey boxer?
Let me know in the comments.