It’s reassuring to see that while the nation struggles to come to terms with its worst disaster since Mt Erebus, some people are determined not to be distracted from what really matters.
Today’s Dominion Post reports that members of Yellow Fever, the fan club for Wellington football team the Phoenix, are up in arms that the team’s young star Marco Rojas has signed with rival team Melbourne Victory.
The Dom Post reports that angry messages dominate Yellow Fever’s website message board. More than 50 respondents to a poll called Rojas a “Judas” for defecting.
In Christchurch, police are trying to identify mangled bodies and rescue workers are risking their lives probing the wreckage of destroyed buildings. But these pathetic football fans remind us that even at a time of national mourning, some people can’t see beyond their petty obsession with sport.
The petulant Phoenix followers feel betrayed because it was Yellow Fever that got Rojas his first break, a training scholarship, with the Phoenix a couple of years ago. Well, boo-hoo. That’s professional sport: players act out of self-interest, not out of any imagined obligations to a bunch of precious fans.
The cry-baby reaction from the Yellow Fever members fans tends to confirm what I’ve always thought about organised fan groups. People who live vicariously through their sporting heroes, who derive a sense of tribal solidarity by dressing up in silly costumes and chanting at matches, suffer from an emotional form of arrested development. The Barmy Army is a textbook example.
On a wider level, I marvel at our ability as a country to get churned up over inconsequential sporting controversies. The furore that erupted after the All Whites won the supreme Halberg award last month beggared belief. One story on the New Zealand Herald website attracted 333 comments, which must surely be some sort of record. I mean, who the hell cares?
Never mind the economic crisis, never mind political issues such as the foreshore and seabed, never mind the potentially earth-shaking turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East; there’s still a depressingly large portion of New Zealand blokedom that regards sport as the only issue serious enough to justify getting steamed up over. God help us.