Last night I rented the movie Green Street. If you have not seen it yet I recommend it. The movie follows a firm of fanatic West Ham hooligans through the eyes of an American college student/ journalism major played by Elijah Woods. The part I found so fascinating is the social aspect of being a fan.
It is another example of our need to find something to identify with, a hero, a group, a leader. A way to define ourselves as part of a special group and to different from others. As an avid sport fan I have a deep feeling about why I am a fan of my team and why I despise the opposing team. As a humanist I find the notion of hating another team or person very problematic.
Shortly after my wife and I moved back to Israel. My favorite team had a basketball game with an opposing team from Greece. The game happened to take place in proximity to the Jewish holiday of Hanukah. I explained to my American wife that this is game has an extra significance at this time of year because the holiday celebrates a struggle between the Jews and the Greek Empire that took place over 2,000 years ago and the Maccabi fans where chanting songs about beating the Greeks. To this date my wife finds it very odd that we would be moved in a basketball game by a battle that took part over 2,000 years ago. If you think about it from a pure logical place she is right. But the passion for sport runs much deeper then any logic.
I guess that is why last week when we had an article criticizing West Ham it only took a few hours for the article to reach a couple of West Ham fan forums and for us to be flooded my angry West Ham fans. The beauty of the site was our ability to offer these same fans a way to respond and within 12 hours we got a submission through one of the fan forums providing an opposing view and backing their team. This is part of what I love about my job, the opportunity to view the controversy and dialog between opposing views. Lets just hope that we can create a world that can leverage this type of dialog on a wider scale.