Societal Change from Football

Imagine if, when Rooney had an amazing shot at goal, and the keeper parries it away like a boss, Rooney then went up to the keeper and congratulated him on a decent save.

What if the Manchester United defence was made to look amateurish by a world class striker, who dribbled between them all, shouldered them away and placed the ball in the top right of the goal, beyond the keeper’s reach. Then, as he celebrated with his team mates, the Manchester United team ALSO applauded his amazing effort, recognising the skill and technique required to perform at such a world class level.

Now imagine the 9 year old boy watching this behaviour from the stands. He sees two opposing teams competing for a prize in football, tribal and warring. Yet in the heat of battle, they stop to recognise the expertise of the other team.

What does he do with this information? How does he process the supposedly-opposing viewpoints? Surely we’re not supposed to be happy when they score against us, no matter how great the goal? How does this sportsmanship offer him a multiple perspective on “football”, and how does he take this to school with him?

As a consequence of this sportsmanship, and after ten years of observing such behaviour on the football pitch, rugby pitch, and other games, how does the boy grow up? What attitudes and behaviours does he extol that are not apparent in the teenage boys of today?

How does society change in the long run because Rooney acknowledges the expertise of his opponents?