by Tony Attwood
That quote come from Philippe Geluck a Belgian humorist – most well known in French speaking circles for the comic strip Le Chat. He has also appeared on the wonderfully named French TV series On a tout essayé (“We’ve Tried Everything”).
It is, for me, a superb line, because it is true – you don’t have to be sporty to be a sports journalist – and true again in that it implies (quite rightly in my view) that many politicians are opportunistic liars. But it is misleading because as we have seen over the nearly 10 years of Untold Arsenal, a lot of journalists are opportunistic liars.
So maybe the quote has to be amended somehow to read
“A football journalists doesn’t have to be an opportunistic liar any more than politicians have to be, but both usually are.”
But of course that loses all its humour, which is why no one has bothered to say it.
However what is interesting is that it is not as if football journalists are good at being opportunistic liars – they are actually just about on the same level as most politicians – who are of course rarely called to account by the media because… well, because the owners of the media tend to be, like politicians, opportunistic liars.
I was reminded of this state of affairs by the many ranters who write in to Untold was a sad regularity, proffering viewpoints that are completely opposed to what Untold is about, without any evidence to support their points of view. As I have said we will publish articles (and occasionally we have published articles) and comments which are against Untold’s general position, but they have to be backed up by evidence of some kind. And we don’t count “the evidence of my own eyes” as valid, because the evidence of one’s own eyes suggests the sun goes around the earth – an entity which, give or take the odd mountain, is by and large flat, according to the same source of evidence.
And this led me on to the recollection of all those people in the USA who claimed that President Obama was not an American citizen and thus could not be President (under the constitution). Thousands of them would appear at rallies waving their birth certificates saying, “I’m showing the president my birth certificate, why won’t the President reveal his?”
Of course the President’s birth certificate was displayed fairly quickly – it was put on line – but the protests continued as if it hadn’t happened – or with the addendum that the birth certificate on line was a fake. And some of us began to wonder, “why were you demanding to see the President’s birth certificate, if you knew that when it was presented you would call it a fake?” And the answer was because the whole protest was a fake – a front for something quite different.
So it goes here – some of the Commentatura, state things, we provide evidence to show this is palpably untrue, and they continue to state the same old same old over and over.
But occasionally there are variations. I’ve started to receive one such variation of late, which several of our regularly unpublished correspondents have engaged in. Here’s one..
All the plastic fans that go to the games and moan about the state the club is in should bugger off and be replaced by the real fans,the cult members of untold. Thats if any of them live in England and know where London is never mind the Emirates.Would be good to see a poll of untolds faithfull to see if any of them have ever stood foot in London.
It is interesting, in that the writer provides no evidence in this little piece that he/she is an Arsenal fan, a regular attendee at the games, has ever been London etc, or that having set foot in London is an actual pre-requisite of commentating on Arsenal. I wonder if it is. Am I not able to comment on the politics of countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, without going there? I like to think so.
But of course if I reply with details of my life, and the lives of the other members of the little group of people who run Untold on a regular basis. But I suspect one of two things is likely to happen: my evidence wouldn’t be believed, or the demands would change.
So it is all rather like the President’s birth certificate, the information requested has been provided time and time again. If you have read these columns a lot you’ll know that three of us who work on the core ideas and writing behind this site are season ticket holders, who often meet up before the game in The Swimmer, and that unlike my two London resident colleagues I live around 80 miles from the stadium. Indeed I can recall in one article actually describing the journey I make via car, foot and public transport to get to and from each match.
However giving that fact raises an issue. The President had to be an American citizen, because the constitution demands it. But Untold is a private enterprise, which some people are kind enough to read. My own view has always been that having our close connection with Arsenal Belgium has enabled us to broaden our viewpoint, and understand what it is like to support from a distance.
And that raises the point, that by picking up this issue, I am now finding myself somehow defending the fact that we have links with Arsenal Belgium, rather than extolling it as a virtue. I lived for a year in Algiers, in the days before the internet, and so just had short wave radio as a way of hearing the scores each week. In those days living overseas really did give one a sense of dislocation from one’s club. OK communication is easier these days, but it is good to hear what it is like to support Arsenal from afar.
I also have an affinity with two other teams: Poole Town and Torquay United. If either they find themselves in a league which has a club within 50 miles of my house, I will go and watch their away game (providing of course Arsenal are not playing at the same time), but it happens very rarely. But I follow them. Am I not a supporter?
If we are going to start saying that one can only be a supporter if one lives close enough to go to a game, that disenfranchises a lot of people, and for what? I suppose in the same way that some like to disenfranchise because of the colour of their skin or their religious views. Yes, in a sense Untold does disenfranchise some by requiring evidence from those who argue against our views, simply because we provide evidence in favour of our views. And if we didn’t the comment section would become a shouting match, reiterating set points.
And the whole point of Untold, is it is supposed to be different from most other blogs. That’s why it is called Untold.
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