Spare Us The Sermonising: Rugby, Football & “The Moral High Ground”

Every so often, the broadsheet press in this country take a trip to morality’s summit, in order to urinate on football from the greatest possible height. Not “real” football, you understand, as played with unstinting honour since William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball and ran with it (i.e. ‘cheated’) at Rugby School in 18…blah…blah…blah. But its bastard cousin, football under association rules, which used to be played with unstinting honour by public schoolboys and muscular Christians until they let the working class johnnies come in and spoil it for everyone. Football took a moral beating during the Olympic Games, when the medal heroes and gallant failures among Team GB were held up as bastions of moral virtue compared to Premier League footballers in general and Daniel Sturridge in particular. This sweeping generalisation was not entirely unfair. But it was mostly unfair. For a kick-off, the Olympic football tournaments were chock-full of the ‘Olympic Spirit’ which oozed from the pores of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins (though more of him in a bit) et al. I highlighted the Honduran mens team as an example of modern football cynicism breaking through the Olympic barrier, only to be corrected by a reader who highlighted their generosity towards a spectator hit by an errant ball from a Honduran boot. The Independent newspaper’s Sam Wallace was a rare voice of mitigation,...

Read More