Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Some perspective into the football violence

Writing in 1981's "THE SOCCER TRIBE," author DESMOND MORRIS noted the difference between street violence and violence on the FOOTBALL terraces, while arguing that the mistaken public perception of an inherent danger in attending matches:
"Most forms of ordinary street violence occur erratically and without warning, often late at night in dark alleyways. By contrast, trouble on the terraces takes place at set times with a huge crowd watching and under the eyes of both press and police. Nobody would deny that in rare cases there are savagely violent moments, but the way these are sometimes reported makes it sound as though they are a common occurrence."
The irony, in light of last night's mayhem at the WEST HAM v. MILLWALL London derby, is that soccer violence *was* much more common when Morris wrote his book.
British football has fostered such a trouble-free environment, that last night's scenes both shock and recall the vicious scenes of yesteryear.
Neither Morris nor I condoned the violence. The point is to put it into perspective (as I am doing, months from visiting LONDON).
You need look no farther than June 2009 in Los Angeles -- when Lakers fans rioted outside the Staples Center -- to see that sports and violence often intertwine among supporters.
There is no need for knee-jerk reactions or for panic: I simply wish efforts to eradicate such violence will continue -- on both sides of the Atlantic -- so that true sports fans can enjoy themselves.