Saturday, 28 April 2012

Emotional Highs - Football v. Religion

What a week !!!  Chelsea beating Barcelona, Bayern Munich beating Real Madrid, Bolton still fighting relegation and turning over Aston Villa, then coming up this weekend the Championship is decided, the last Old Firm fixture of a very odd season for Rangers and the BIG match on Monday with the potential title decider when Man City host United.

It has to be said that now we are in the 21st Century, as far as emotion highs are concerned Football has to be responsible for far more emotional highs (and lows) in far, far greater numbers of people than Religion does.

It is hard to describe to non-football supporters quite what you get out of supporting a club. In many ways there are many similarities with the reasons that many people go to church. Not everyone joins a football supporters club for the football, in the same way that not everyone who goes to church does so for religious reasons.

The feelings of belonging and inclusion, being part of a social circle, having common aims and desires and for some, the provision of emotion support in times of need, are equally valid reasons for going to church or going to a football stadium.

The obvious similarities are that these reasons for attending either church or the stadium do not necessarily have anything to do with Football or Religion. The biggest difference is the numbers of people benefiting from these support mechanisms.

While the churches are pretty much emptying, the other notable factor is the age and demographic of those attending......

.......and it may be that Religion will find it increasingly difficult to persuade younger generations to change their ways and become more sexist, racist and homophobic.

Football on the other hand brings a huge amount of joy to a great many people.....
.... and the church could only dream of crowds such as those that attend organised Football matches, let alone the arm-chair supporters and those who play, coach and referee the game at all levels and all ages.

But it is the emotional roller-coaster  of Football that Religion can not compete with. Take the Arsenal v. Spurs game on the 26th Feb 2012. As an Arsenal fan it was  a poor start a goal down after 4 minutes, then despair as we went 2 down after 34 minutes.Then despair turned to hope and then relief as the first half ended 2:2. And what a second half, 11 minutes in and we're delighted to go a goal up, ecstatic 15 minutes later to double the lead at 4:2, and the unbelievably shortly after it was 5:2. No Religious thought  has ever given me even a fraction of the emotional enjoyment that this game did, and many millions of people feel the exactly the same.

 Football can be accused of being tribal and causing rifts and friction between factions (much as Religion does), but luckily the trouble caused at Football matches is by the lunatic fringe and there is often a great deal of joy, fun and laughter between rival supporters, and you'd never see enjoyment and costumes like the Dutch supporters are wearing below, at church.

So, the only conclusion that can be made is that Football is responsible for more, joy, excitement and positive emotional experiences than Religion.

And that is why you have huge crowds going to 'worship' at Football stadiums at every chance they get.

As dalekpete points out in his blog, after he carried out an admittedly limited survey, if asked people as as likely to name Football as their religion as name an organised religion. So, once the 'stigma' associated with the word 'atheist' is removed, more and more people will be willing to put 'No Religion' or 'Football' if asked.

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