Drugs as a Metaphor for Sports & Partisanship- A Study of Substance Abuse 

I always wondered what sort of psychiatric condition or emotional malaise afflicted those people who are avid supporters of some sports team or the other (here in Nigeria, more commonly European football teams), especially when I observe the intense (and often war-like) rivalries between those in different camps; the bar-room arguments between Manchester United and Chelsea fans that degenerate into fisticuffs, the social media taunts that are piled on the fans of whatever team is having a bad run (seems to be mostly Arsenal these days, but I am simply too ignorant to be certain), the manic analyses of matches, play styles, player trades and skills and what those elements portend for the futures of respective clubs…

In all, I suppose I couldn’t understand the passion that was whipped up in these people… by sport, of all things. Bear in mind that I have experienced the excitement of watching our national team in international matches and even the short-term frenzied glee when they triumphed so I am not immune to the short-term madness of sport, but I suspect I have almost been too ‘arm’s-length’ in my emotional approach to sports and couldn’t extend such moments beyond the evening or afternoon or whatever hour of the match occurring. However, not long ago, I got an insight into the spirit of sporting enthusiasm and, even if it is some sort of lunacy, I have since withdrawn my harsh judgment of it. Here’s why;

A few months ago, I attended my daughter’s school sports day; not just for obligation’s sake, but mainly to support my daughter, who was representing her house, Jasmine (or Green House) in the swimming, sprint relay, tyre race, and marching events. The swimming event had already happened off-site (Boogie got the silver medal), so I was waiting to watch her perform in the others at the sports field and I found myself becoming quite wound up as the various other children represented their different houses. The fact that every victory for Green House was a victory for my daughter’s team compelled a completely irrational reaction in me that had me cheering madly every time its members did well and getting inordinately upset when they did poorly. I actually entertained some decidedly ‘un-Christian’ thoughts about other people’s children when they ‘let our house down’; things like “Look at this zero-motivation, zero-talent, flat-footed, plodding, baton-dropping, slow-lane, race-losing creature!!! Green House could have been first… aaarrgh!!!”

You may have noticed that I am not talking about events that my daughter participated in herself? That’s because what I was experiencing was beyond just rooting for my child- my madness was for the tribe I had adopted because my daughter was in it. Green House was OUR HOUSE! On reflection, it occurred to me that perhaps this wasn’t about sports per se, but about partisanship! Something about our tribal nature, as well as the need for fulfilment through a sense of belonging, seems to inform our tendency to pick sides and then stake our emotions (and sometimes our mental health, apparently) on the success of these sides. Maybe some of us need this tribal fix more than others and become lifelong fans of Liverpool/Tottenham/Bulls/Warriors/Eyimba/Giants/[insert your tribe here], while some of us may only need (or want) to hit that partisanship bong occasionally, but the high is remarkable- and possibly addictive!

P.S. Boogie got three silver medals, by the way, so I had some pride mixed in with my buzz…

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2 thoughts on “Drugs as a Metaphor for Sports & Partisanship- A Study of Substance Abuse ”

  1. No be small thing. I don’t follow any European football club, so I ain’t “fanatical” about none of them, but seeing as you turned the scrutiny inwards, I have begun to understand better. I guess that when I get to that hurdle, ahma leap over it. Good post, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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