The Brave New World of Sport

By now, most people have heard of the “OneLove” controversy as it unfolds at the FIFA world cup.

In a nutshell, players from clubs mostly in western Europe wanted to wear a striped armband that originated from a Royal Dutch Football Association campaign that signalled their opposition to all forms of “discrimination”. A range of football clubs had signalled their player’s intention to wear the armbands at the Qatar world cup, but FIFA – the governing body of the international federation of football associations – threatened to sanction anyone for wearing it on the grounds it made a political statement in what is meant to be an apolitical activity.

With principles weaker than water, football clubs had initially trumpeted that they would stand their ground even if it came with a financial penalty, but they baulked at the possibilities of sanctions, and caved. Players have instead opted to make gestures (like the German team covering their mouths) to indicate how their freedom of speech is being robbed from them.

What we see here are a number of irrational elements arising in western culture.

Firstly, we see that the current western obsession with ontology has gained a powerful hold on sporting institutions. One would think a football club would be primarily concerned about training excellent players. But such is the character of western modernism that not only is everything now political, but the politics is always the same. The same wearisome, endless, repetitious selection of mantras, two-penny slogans, and soundbites about the same ontological stuff.

Secondly, we see how sexual ethics have long ceased to be merely about tolerance as we were repeatedly told by the sitcom actors and television hosts back in the early 2000s. Now an atheistic sexual ethic has become aggressively militant and appears to think it needs to convert the world to its view of sex that assumes there is no creator and that sexuality can be divorced of purpose, health, created intention, families, or scriptural conditions. Part of the aggression is seen in a grotesque militancy toward anyone who holds to a religious viewpoint. It is ironic that German players are clapping their hands over their mouths to indicate that they have no speech, because western nations have been doing this to anyone who wishes to express their view that we are created beings, not all sexual acts are moral, and sexual open-slather is neither a logical nor moral principle.

Of course, western nations are all over the map on sexual ethics. There is absolute laissez-faire when it comes to homosexuality; an almost hysterical rush to expedite teenagers being able to access the surgical removal of healthy breasts (2/3 of teenagers expressing transgender feelings are girls – an imbalance that not even the feminists seem to care about). Yet, all western nations rigorously maintain an “age of consent” and collections of rules about which people (and when) in a position of “authority” can have sex with someone at a lesser rank in their organisation. Apparently there are moral prohibitions after all, and consent is not the single defining factor of appropriate sex, but this sits crazily inconsistently with the goosestep of those who want to purge any religious person’s view from the social space.

Thirdly, we see how difficult it is even when FIFA enforces its own rules, to find any kind of common ground between worldviews and universes that are increasingly different on the planet.

This particular political stunt was being pulled by players visiting a conservative Muslim country that views homosexuality through the prism of Islam. It is impossible to conceive that these football players were not – at least in part – motivated by the hope they could put a finger in the eye of a conservative religious country and parade their posture back home as courageous and meaningful. The idea that it would change anyone’s mind, or would even be especially noteworthy in the rough and tumble of the field, is risible. You might as well have worn the Star of David at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and congratulated yourself for helping to overthrow fascism.

The problem with western modernism is that it does not really practice what it preaches. While it talks about the co-equality of people, and the co-equality of “perspectives” or “narratives” or “traditions”, it does not really view itself as one perspective among many perspectives. Rather, it views itself with an inbuilt bigotry that it is morally correct and everyone who disagrees needs to be pulled down. As a result, these empty-headed footballers with their straining-to-be-meaningful armbands are clueless that their minor act of protest is really tantamount to an arrogant demand that an entire nation that is culturally and historically different must change its culture, religion, and social policies. Why? Are these co-equal positions? No. The western position is morally superior, somehow.

No wonder so many nations in that part of the world hate the west. It also demonstrates that if the sun sets on the United States and a different power with a different cultural background rises to exert more cultural influence, this johnny-come-lately sexual ethic built on scarcely tested assumptions and presumptions, will blow away like chaff in yesterday’s gale and will be remembered no more.