I had intended to use today’s blog to write about Partey, Lacazette, and Hector Bellerin. A bit of a grab bag blog. You know, the classic international-break-type of blog when there is a lengthy gap in play. But after what I saw online, on social media of course, I just couldn’t.
Maybe the problem lies with me expecting more. Expecting better of people. Expecting understanding, respect, and a single scruple of humanity from a social media platform that generally shows very little. A platform where accounts are rewarded for their risqué posts and the very act of showing no respect, to anyone, for anything.
“Cry more”, “Let me drink your tears”. Yeah. Maybe I set myself up for a real moment of failure when I expected more from a community where retorts like that are commonplace. But I expected better from the fanbase than what could be seen when the club posted their Remembrance Day acknowledgement with the phrase, “lest we forget”. If you haven’t read the comments, they are subduing.
I love Arsenal. I love when they win, I hurt when they lose. I love football. Talking about it, writing about it, watching it, playing it when I can — hell, I even love arguing about it. But the responses beneath Arsenal’s post, the comments on a post that is meant to go so far beyond sport, beyond competition, and beyond rivalries, to a place of humanity, thankfulness, and respect — were appalling. On a human level they were outright horrible.
There is a time and a place to voice frustrations for Arteta. A time and place to shout for Pepe to play. A time and a place to criticize the club and a 3-0 loss to Aston Vila. This specific post is not it.
There is a rising shift in football, and possibly sport in general, that only cares about their team winning matches. Producing results. Getting the better over opposition. Supplying them as fans with all ammunition they need to feel superior to other team’s fans.
Don’t get me wrong, I too care very much about seeing Arsenal compete and win. But as something we give our heart to, seeing the club have their heart in the right places matters too. Seeing fellow fans having their hearts in the right place when it comes to remembering the aspects of life that matter — matters. A lot.
If there is one thing Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, or the like, should be used for it is reflecting on the sanctity of life and the sacrifices that great people stepped up and made. Reminding ourselves there is so much in life that matters a great deal more than what happens in between the chalk lines. If there is one thing this entire year has pushed into our faces time and time again, it is the reminder that much of life matters a great deal more than results on the scoreboard.
We won’t dive into the deep roots of supporting war efforts Arsenal has within their origins. I mean, that should be obvious to everyone that has taken approximately 3-5 seconds to reflect upon the club’s name. However, we can talk about the immense effect both World Wars had on the club; the sacrifices that virtually every member of the club made to support the efforts; and those Arsenal players that put the game aside to serve, never to return to it.
Herbie Roberts. Jack Lambert. Cyril Tooze. Henry Cook. Bill Dean. Hugh Glass. Leslie Lack. Bill Parr. Sidney Pugh. To name a few just from World War II.
Yesterday was a sad day. A sobering day, in many ways. We can sit here and say, “those aren’t real fans.” We can dig into their profiles and find commonalities between them. But the truth is that these people are invariably linked with all of us when they self-identify as Arsenal supporters and a part of our community. They announce to the world vociferously that they are Gooners through and through, and that was a tough moment to deal with yesterday.
I urge everyone that isn’t aware of Arsenal’s time during the World Wars to take a moment and educate yourselves. Take a moment to learn why being a supporter of the club and the team, overlaps with supporting and reflecting back on days like today.
The club has put out two very quick and easy reads on the matter: Arsenal at War and VE Day 75 | Arsenal and the Second World War. We can be better. We should be better. There is MUCH more to life than a game and history shows it.
Yesterday, was the toughest day of the week to be an Arsenal fan. A lot tougher than handling this weekend’s results. We would do well to remember there are times in life where the game is just a game and real people have stepped up and sacrificed on our behalf. Lest we forget.