Football is a religion !!
“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I can assure them, it is much more serious than that!”. Words of wisdom from the great Liverpool legend Bill Shankly, but are we really to believe that football is anything more than simply ‘a game of two halves’?
Britons everywhere are increasingly deserting the church in favour of the pitch. The players are God’s, the stands are the pews, and hymns passionately sung by thousands can be heard for miles around. Football is the newest, hippest religion around.
Football provides the ritual for weekend gatherings for the truly committed, those less devout can opt for Match of the Day – football’s Song’s of Praise. To actually see first hand, thousands of people singing their hearts out, hands held high to a greater being is quite an emotional experience. But this is not a worship ceremony in a Harlem Pentecostal super-church. It is Old Trafford, The Cop, The Shelf and the North Bank (to name a few)!
In this ‘beautiful game’ the players are righteous holy beings. Football even has special clothes to distinguish the professionals from the laity. The difference is however, that few Christians go to church wearing the vestments of their favourite priest!
Football undoubtedly takes on religious themes but is it actually a religion? What is religion anyway? To search back to its Latin origins would be to find the meaning ‘to bind’ or to ‘join’. Religion is not necessarily about god – for example Buddha never denied or accepted that there was in fact a God. Thus religion is about togetherness.
Football clearly has the tribalism associated with religion. It brings together the young, the old, the rich and the poor. It even has its fundamentalists, the hundreds of foolish hooligans that think violence is the best illustration of their devotion. Whatever the comparison, football engages people in a mass, emotional display of faith and collective strength just like Christianity used to.
Football gives us a new purpose, a new meaning, a new way of life!
I choose to believe in Liverpool and how bout you?