Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Class in Sports: A Lesson from Scotland

So, I was in Scotland last week. I'm not going to get a whole lot of posts out of that because it wasn't really a sports vacation, but there was one little situation that interested me. When we got in, a taxi took us from the airport to our apartment. Naturally, we got to chatting with the cabbie, who pointed out a few cites to us. He was sure to point out this:

Which happens to be Edinburgh's rugby stadium. He explained that rugby is pretty big in Scotland, but was quick to note, "Of course, rugby is the rich man's game."

I nodded and asked him what was more popular.

"Well, football, of course," he said, then spent an interminable five minutes explaining that what he called "football" we would call "soccer". My friends in Europe, please note that WE REALLY DO GET THIS, YOU DON'T NEED TO KEEP EXPLAINING IT.

Anyway, I said, "I see, so football's a little more for everyone."

But that wasn't quite right, and the cabbie corrected me. "No, not for everyone. It's just more the working man's sport."

It's dangerous to draw too much from one man's opinions, but this kind of stark class dichotomy in sports fascinated me. Here in the U.S., we note some slight demographic differences between the sports, but even those seem to be based off of stereotypes as much as anything measurable. We just don't have stark class dichotomies in our sports like that. Of course, we don't have quite as rigid of a class system in our history, either, so thereyago, really.

For the most part, that's a good thing, of course. Sports should be a place where everyone comes together. Not everything needs to be run through the meat grinder of partisan politics, and I'm kinda happy that few of us choose our favorite sports based on socio-political tribalism. But at the same time, well, sports are a multibillion dollar industry- it's really hard for me to believe that they have no economic or class implications. And if there are such implications, we probably need to pay attention to them.

Come to think of it, that's pretty much why I started this blog.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard this from multiple other sources though. Rugby is the upper class sport and soccer is the lower class sport. What gets me about this is that rugby is more inherently violent (forget hooliganism and just look at the rules). Come to America and things like golf and polo are upper crust, whereas football is blue collar, and it's all about roughing each other up.