Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Me-Me-Me Meme

Tactically, the constant search for an effective harmony between individuality and team ethics creates an engaging tension. Blending flair with pragmatism is an elusive alchemy.

This can be seen in the non-footballing elements of players' behaviour as well. They clearly want or need to be recognised as individuals, but are inescapably bound to their teammates. Hence, a player makes a personal gesture of some kind, only to see it disappear amongst a mass of imitators within weeks.

Players have been known to instigate some interesting practices when it comes to fashion (the tumescent tie-knot; the distressed denim/sequinned t-shirt faux pas), and they can be endlessly creative with a camcorder and a few chums.

However, despite such lurid invention, they ultimately seek a sense of belonging through identification with their peers, and attain permission for activities via group sanction. Be it the Gucci clutch, the Vicks-splattered patch on the shirt, or the forearms pitted with hieroglyphics, each new affectation sees its imitation spread through the game like a tabloid scandal.

This extends to the goal celebration, too. The somersault, the finger to the lips, the collective rocking of imaginary infants, and, most unwelcome of all, the anus-wiggling, pot-stirring, grind. Carlos Tevez aping Beyoncé? Not in front of the children, thanks.

This last weekend saw the two celebrations reproduced below. My research suggests that Thierry Henry has been doing this one awhile. What can it mean: do they they have a stimulant smudged upon their wrist? Could it be snuff, or an unfinished Fisherman's Friend, perhaps? It's a beguiling enigma, for sure. However, unless informed otherwise, I'm going to presume that this gesture carries no profound meaning whatsoever, and is merely another example of footballing autosuggestion.

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