IN the general euphoria that surrounded the Olympics and Paralympics this summer, it was often suggested that the nation’s footballers should take a leaf out of the competitors’ books with regard to their sportsmanship in victory and defeat.
Amongst much head-nodding and murmurs of agreement, it was Roy Hodgson who ventured that it might be a good thing if football fans learned a thing or two also, in particular the generosity of spirit shown by the spectators to winners and losers alike, regardless of their allegiance.
If we’re honest, we’re not immune to this sort of behaviour. We can argue the toss about who starts the Munich/Hillsborough chants, but the reality is that elements of either side need little provocation to revert to type.
At an individual level, we all know someone who sits nearby who seems to take their enjoyment from perpetually slagging off members of their own team, where every mistake is treated as an intentional snub to the shirt they are wearing.
I was treated to such an experience at Swansea on Sunday, where a modestly dressed lady of a certain age spent the entire game hurling potty-mouthed abuse at Steven Gerrard.
I’ll not attempt any cod psychology to explain this desire to fling normal standards of behaviour aside when entering a football ground.
I’ll just hope that we can moderate our extremes so that we can retain our reputation for loyalty and commitment with a sense of fairness.