Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Moral Economy of Football (Soccer)

As a regular viewer of European football matches, especially from the UK and Spain, I have been fascinated by (among other things) the post-match interviews and analyses, which seem to me to differ markedly from those of American sporting events in one vital respect: in Europe, a great deal of attention is focused on the moral desert of a victory or loss, as if whether a win, draw or loss was "earned" matters as much as the final scoreline. Did the winning club play well enough to "deserve" its victory? Did the losing club perhaps "deserve" a point or to get "more from the match." This kind of post-match analysis is endemic. Listen to any post-match interview with a team manager or media analyst, and you will like hear a discussion of whether the match result was or was not a "fair" reflection of the game, among other moral issues. A team that ties a match might be considered morally victorious, if they were expected to lose or if they were expected ex ante to have been "content with a draw." A team that wins as expected, may not get full credit if their quality of play, or the extent of the victory, did not meet some (or someone's) presupposed standard.

In the US, as a rule, the final score seems to be all that counts. This is reflected in the traditional response of a winning player to trash tack from the other team: "SCOREBOARD!" While the final score might is explained in post-match analyses by various factors affecting the outcome, it is rarely interrogated for its rightness or fairness.

If I am right that this difference exists between European and the US, when it comes to adjudging the outcomes of sporting events, I can only wonder at the reasons for it. Does it boil down to differences in social psychology or mental models of the world? Is it a consequence of different cultural histories? Does it reflect different attitudes about markets or the "rules of the game"?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I actively moderate comments for spam, advertisements, and abusive or offensive language.